Words and Images

I’m struggling to write.  I have thoughts.  I have feelings.  I’m struggling to put my thoughts and feelings into words. Or I don’t want to.

More and more I’m getting my writing ideas from looking at images — illustrations, infographics, comics, photos, artwork. Increasingly, I’ll start a post by first attaching an image I find evocative and writing around the thoughts and feelings it evokes.

I write in a journal and the words on the page are being crowded out by doodles.

The more time I spend looking at a screen designed predominantly to display images the more I am drawn to images, think in terms of images and want to create images.

I think Jessi Hempel was right when she wrote in Fortune that photos (and in my opinion other images) “have become a visual shorthand that is at once more emotionally resonant and more efficient than the words (one) might once have used to express the same ideas.”

Am I tiring of words and communicating via text or is technology changing the way my brain’s wiring, making me want my information by way of images?

I don’t know.  I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not.

The artwork that inspired this post is from Rubyetc:



This is a perfect illustration of how I’ve experienced my sensitivity.  It was this messy thing I believed was who I was until I separated from it, looked at it, reclaimed it, held it, carried it, and used it deliberately.  I put it in it’s proper place and it allowed me to open up to new, colorful things and experiences.  It allowed me to be a more interesting person.

Maybe this evokes something different in you.  Maybe nothing.  But whatever happened it didn’t take a lot of time.  I prefer a few seconds enjoying these drawings and the lingering visuals to reading 1000 words on separating one’s identity from one’s personality.

I still love words.  Words encourage depth of thought.  I really love words and images together hence my love of charts, graphs, and Venn diagrams.  But, my tolerance for too many words is shrinking.  My love for images and their brevity is growing.

I don’t think “words are dead” as the title of Hempel’s article suggested.  “Words are dying” is more accurate.  All you have to do is look at what kids under 20 are doing, how they choose to express themselves and how they interact with one another:  Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, emoji. Images, images, images, images.

The image is the future.


Related reading — A Future of Fewer Words? (pdf) by Lawrence Baines

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