I’ve love to read since I was a toddler. When I was in school, people joked that reading was nerdy, but as I’ve grown I’ve discovered that fewer and fewer people seem to enjoy reading. It seems to be a leisure activity of the past; no one has time to sit down and enjoy a good book, and frankly few seem to want to.
In his book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, Nicholas Carr points out that information has become incredibly more accessible to the masses. “Research that once required days in the stacks or periodical rooms of libraries can now be done in minutes.” As a student and advertising professional, I can appreciate the ease of online catalog searches and Google to complete even the simplest tasks. Our society has become so focused on gathering information and increasing productivity that reading lengthy text, especially for pleasure, has become a lost art. Carr quotes Joe O’Shea, a former student body president at Florida State University and 2008 Rhodes recipient. He says, “Sitting down and going through a book cover to cover doesn’t make sense. It’s not a good use of my time, as I can get the information I need faster through the web.” When Postman first wrote “Amusing Ourselves to Death”, television was the latest medium, but his references are just as applicable, if not more so, to the internet. Postman points out that “television does not ban books, it displaces them”. I found this to be incredibly poignant and meaningful. With the advent and increased use of visual, faster media, reading lengthy material is no longer desirable.
The lack of reading interest, especially in our youth, has caused me concern for a few years. I wrote my undergraduate thesis about the concept of a nonprofit organization hoping to reverse the process, especially in younger generations. Though I’ve barely begun reading Carr’s book, he has already made some interesting observations about how technology has changed our culture. I’m excited to continue progressing with this topic!