Click, Clack, Moo: Why you MUST stop dumbing yourself down

Click, Clack, Moo is a book for preschoolers.

It's a story about a group of cows who are unhappy with the general quality of care in their barn.

When they find a typewriter, they take the opportunity to improve their standard of living. They write a note for Farmer Brown, requesting electric blankets.

Farmer Brown, naturally, is disinclined to acquiesce to their request. The situation escalates, and the cows decide to strike. No blankets? No milk.

The hens get involved. Come to think of it, they're cold, too. No blankets? No milk AND no eggs.

(It's like Lysistrata, except it's about barnyard animals instead of sex.)

Eventually, all gets resolved, but not before a lot of clicking, a lot of clacking, and a lot of mooing. (There's also a delightful twist at the end. Duck goes and gets himself empowered. That's all I'm saying.)

My favorite line in the book is this one:

“Duck was a neutral party, so he brought the ultimatum to the cows.”

For years, this was my son Jack's favorite book.

It has 58,536 ratings on Good Reads, 483 reviews on Amazon US, and won the Caldecott Honor in 2001.

So now what does this have to do with you?

You must stop dumbing yourself down.

I know it's really easy to think that just because 99.984% of all content on the internet is written like a Cosmo sidebar, you have to write like that, too.

You don't.

If you are smart, you're allowed to show it.

If you think in big concepts, you're allowed to write in big concepts.

If you want to make a reference to something obscure, or high-level, or a bit above people's heads, you're allowed to do that.

If you want to talk about ultimatums and labor strikes and neutral parties to a three-year-old, there's nothing wrong with that.

If you are trying to show you're an expert…

If you are trying to show you're authoritative…

If you're trying to show you know what the hell you're talking about…

…you can't keep writing like a Valley Girl, just to “please the masses”.

Screw the masses.

You have been given a gift. Please stop squandering it.