I’m astounded by readers’ very small responses to very big problems — at least as manifested by how they respond to my blog. Readers have a responsibility to think bigger than that.
For example, if I write a post called “Why Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t realize Facebook is evil,” people respond “I quit Facebook.” As if that means they no longer have to think or worry about it.
Can you answer the question “What do I think about what I just read?” If not, why bother reading it?
The author’s job is insight
This is what I learned from 20 years as an analyst, a realization that continued in my years as an author:
My job is to find a new and better insight about something that matters to a lot of people. Then I need to explain why I believe what I believe, how it matters, and what it means to the readers.
That is also the job of a nonfiction author.
The reader’s job is to think and act on that insight
We authors work pretty hard for the benefit of readers. So here’s some advice to readers on what to do about it.
If the work is irrelevant to you, stop reading. You’re not in the target audience. Don’t waste your time.
If the work is poorly argued or flawed, critique it. Write a comment. Write a review. Write a response. If it’s good enough to read but not good enough to believe, why not?
If the work is well argued, act on it. Change how you think. Extend it with your own insights (giving credit, of course). Tell others about it. Tell the author it mattered.
You don’t need to think as hard as the author. The job of the reader shouldn’t be that hard. But you do need to think.