I believe that we read differently mainly because all literature and media as a whole has changed. We have such a wide range of things to read and take in daily and the variety of forms that we read from is so expansive that we read in a both more passive manner and more often. Our attention spans are shorter yes, but our demand for quality and engagement is also higher. Johnson’s references to “micromessages” make sense to me- we are reading news snippets rather than extensive articles often, we read texts instead of letters, and in turn, we read shorter, more attention grabbing novels more often than lengthy verbose works.
This changes the way we write because we want to write the way we believe readers want us to. But this is nothing new. I think that in order to write “short” well, you have to know how to write everything. Having the modern works be different does not mean we have lost the longer ways of the past, we just have a broader idea of the types of writing we can have in the canon. I agree with Johnson that it is not bad, simply different.
I would also argue further that while the modern literature and other written works are shorter on the overall trend, there is still a great respect, and even reverence for the continued tradition of more classic styles, and in schools as well as in distinct literary circles long classics are still considered the best and the ‘most high”.
I think that most people could use instruction in microstyle, but I could consider that most people need more instruction in all forms of writing so that they can be an informed creator and be able to work inside and beyond a variety of structures and styles in order to find their own strengths.
This can also connect to our previous discussion of dialects and how from literature to news to social media and even within each of these categories there is a variety of forms of language. It is within a context that we speak and therefore write. It is a specific form of social fluency to be able to write properly according to the context.