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FY, TL;DR – The Tech Curmudgeon

We all have busy lives, and sometimes we have to skip reading a long article online. But using TL;DR is nothing more than an attempt to pass the buck for your own laziness or lack of attention span to the article’s author.

tl;drThe Tech Curmudgeon was at Reddit a while back, following a link someone sent him when he came across something he hadn’t seen in awhile. The acronym “TL;DR,” which stands for Too Long; Didn’t Read. The Tech Curmudgeon despises TL;DR in general, but to TL;DR a science link is fucking appalling. TL;DR means that you’re not only rude, but you’re lazy and have a short attention span too.

Some things require time to explain. Not everything can be explained 140 characters at a time. Some things require attention to be paid, and care to understand. Like science. Like psychology. Like history. Like nearly everything that is actually fucking important.

Let’s talk about something that’s near and dear to the Tech Curmudgeon’s heart – World War II history. The Tech Curmudgeon has read a ton of actual books (you know, those things filled with thin sheets of pulped wood that are covered in printed ink and bound together with glue?) on various aspects of the war, with his favorites being D-Day, Midway, tanks, and large-caliber guns (naval cannons, howitzers, tank main guns, et al). None of those things are amenable to short discussions. For example, battles are complicated things to explain and understand, with terrain, weather, time of day, composition of forces, intelligence, and deception all playing their part, and in ways that change in importance over the course of the battle. The Tech Curmudgeon couldn’t have anything resembling an intelligent conversation on any of these topics in something that was short enough to avoid a “TL;DR.”

And don’t get the Tech Curmudgeon started on the complexities of astrophysics, or volcanism, or the political applications of Sun-Tzu’s “The Art of War,” or the ethics of human cloning, or any of a score of other topics he knows enough about to discuss intelligently.

TL;DR is a dog that shits on the rug, eats the shit, vomits it back up, and then tries to hide the vomit in a wet, stinking lump under the now-shitty carpet, all while trying to blame the cat.

The Tech Curmudgeon understands that we all have busy lives and we don’t have time to read everything that we come across. But instead of proving to the entire world that you’re an asshat by using “TL;DR,” just move on if you think something is too long. You’re still ignorant, but at least you’re not a distractible, lazy douchebag too.

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