Do Our Bathroom Breaks Dictate What We Read?By Byron Gould

I was recently at a social gathering when someone asked, “Do many girls play video games?”

I boldly stated that, of course, women did, and that—whether they realized it or not—most people with smartphones were playing video games of some kind. One woman rebutted that, despite having a smartphone, she did not have any games on it.

But what do you do while you poop!?

I shouted incredulously into a confused crowd of nearby party-goers.

Quickly, several people joined the conversation; swarming like, well, flies to poop.

The conversation’s popularity shouldn’t have surprised me seeing as nearly 25 percent of the world’s population owns a smartphone.

Still, many of my fellow party-goers wanted to chime in about how they used their bathroom breaks to frequent articles that were too long to read politely in public.

One person even added:

If I come across a really interesting article, I’ll open it in my browser, and save it for my bathroom breaks.

As it turns out, this practice of web browsing during bathroom breaks is fairly common; in fact CBS News reported that about 75 percent of Americans admitted to using their phone while in the bathroom.

Why Does This Matter to Content Writers?

Writers may already be aware that 20-30 percent of all web traffic comes from mobile devices, but it’s hard to know how much time their audience is actually taking read the content.

Well, according the the SCD Lifestyle article titled “Pooping 101: 4 Signs Your Poop is Healthy” a “healthy poop” is around six minutes, give or take. That means an article needs to really be engaging readers to avoid getting flushed.

This begs the question: How do I avoid having my content flushed during those bathroom breaks?

  • Highlight key points. You want to have succinct articles that highlight your main points, that way the reader can decide, at a glance, which parts of your content they will want to skip. Better they flush one section than the whole piece.
  • Cut out the fluff! This is a fundamental of writing in general, but it rings even truer when you’re in the process of making every minute of the reader’s time count.
  • Keep your article simple and engaging. Many times I’ve been sitting on the throne and closed out of an article because it became too tangential for my interest or my limited time.
  • Fulfill what the title promises! If I can tell within the first couple of paragraphs that the title was ruffling its feathers to make its ideas look larger than they are, I’ll skip it.
  • Avoid click-bait titles. I’ve never looked at a click-bait article and thought, “Man, I’m going to get some good content out of this.” At this point, anyone who is even a little content savvy knows better than to be tricked by links with “you’ll never believe what happened next” in them.

Bathroom Breaks Are An Out-of-Body Experience

Alone time in the bathroom is sacred, and people want to enjoy it with content that is worthwhile.

For some people, the six minutes of bathroom time might very well be the only few minutes they get out of the day where they can enjoy some peace and quiet (varying results on the “quiet” part).

Respect that they are choosing to spend that time listening to you talk.

It’s your responsibility as a writer to create content that’s worth the reader’s time.

There is a payoff, though. If you consistently produce worthwhile content and respect the reader’s time, you may become the go-to bathroom breaks material.

image credit: Shutterstock

Bryon Gould

Byron Gould is a Creative Writing Major in Idaho, transplanted from Vermont. He spends a lot of time working on his dumb podcast and a variety of scattered poetry pieces.

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