Hemingway, Hermes, Politics, and Managing Your Own Patch

Lockdown might be easing but like many people I’m staying put, staying safe, staying in until the science becomes clearer. And in the meantime, I’m thinking… hard.

I’m not the only one re-evaluating modern life. All over the world people are realising the old ‘normal’ was a bit crap. Unless you were one of the fortunate few with the ability to swim confidently in shark-filled capitalist-consumer waters, the system let you down and left you floundering, under-valued and oppressed by poverty.

There has to be a better way. In fact, once you start thinking about it, there are better ways to handle all sorts of things. Here are some thoughts, from my world to yours.

Why the Yoast and Hemingway route means poor quality writing

If you’re thinking about briefing a freelance writer to create content, bear in mind content that passes the Yoast and Hemingway quality standards actually leaves you with very poor writing. Not just bad quality, but deadly dull as well.

If your writer’s first language isn’t English, the guidelines provided by Yoast SEO and the Hemingway Editor are probably very useful, guiding non-native speakers to create the correct structure and style. Otherwise, step away if you want to avoid banal content that ticks all the SEO boxes but bores human readers to death.

Hemingway won’t let you use repetition for emphasis. It warns against using sentences beyond a certain length. It simplifies messages to such a degree that they lose their flavour. It has taken against adverbs. Yoast maunders on about ‘stop words’, adores transition words, and hates long sentences. And the Flesch ‘ease of reading’ thing is extremely troublesome, not something you need to take into account unless you’re writing for the lowest common denominator on a B2C basis, or for an audience whose first language isn’t English.

Both Yoast content analysis and Hemingway Editor are handy tools when used in moderation or taken with pinches of salt by experienced writers. But follow them too closely and your content won’t hit the mark. It’ll be perfect as far as Yoast and Hemingway are concerned, but it’ll turn human readers right off.

Why I abandon Hermes feedback half way through

Our local Hermes delivery driver is great. But the Hermes feedback routine is terrible. While most companies have got their head around the fact that people are busy, and a three question review is the maximum most of us will put up with, Hermes hasn’t.

I would love to give our driver, and the service as a whole, a great review. But Hermes asks punters to complete a survey that’s so long and boring – involving multiple ways to ask the same questions – that I lose the will to live.

Hey Hermes. Shorten your review process and I will be delighted to oblige with a good one!

How politics isn’t the answer after all

As a Labour Party member and Labour voter, I’ve spent years believing politics is the best way to drive radical change, the kind of change we need to make life better and fairer for everyone.

I can’t help thinking the British political system is not driving the kind of rapid, dramatic change we need right now to deal with climate change, racism, the virus, and all the other pressing issues humanity faces. In fact I’d go as far as saying British politics prevents change, blocks change, and supports the status quo.

What’s the alternative to politically-driven change? I’m erring towards people-power right now. I’m with the Extinction Rebellion, which figured out some time ago that politics is blocking change. XR has the people-power required to make change happen while our shitty politicians dick about in the same tired old way.

Caring for your own little patch keeps you sane

You could drive yourself mad trying to save the world.

As a consumer you have some power. You can reject products and services that come from places, businesses and people you disapprove of. As a human with rights you can vote, and hope against hope that things might change for the better. But none of us can heal the whole world, much as we’d like to, and it makes us feel helpless and unhappy.

I like what therapists say. Realise you can’t heal the world, but understand you can heal your own little patch. You can make your outdoor space more wildlife-friendly. You can create beauty, and spread love and joy. You can be consciously kind and considerate to everyone you come across. You can create your own haven, your own mini-world. You can make it as good as it can be, and include everyone you love in it. And that’s how you’ll make a real difference.

If we all do it…

Have you had any radical lockdown thoughts? If so let me know!

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