Saturday, June 18, 2011

Writing- Has the internet made us lose our ability to read books?

According to a Star Tribune article by Stephan Wilbers, he asks if we have lost our ability to read books. He presents two arguments in his short article.

He says that we live "in the age of distraction". What does he mean by this? Mr. Wilbers says,
technology fosters a kind of thinking that races over the surface rather than reflects on what lies beneath, when information, speed and nimble reaction are prized over knowledge, logical thinking and reasoned response.
In other words (like my own) this means that because we have things like social networks and other sites of information, we sometimes feel a sense that there is something out there that requires our attention. For the most part, we come find quick facts and little chunks of information. In our society today, we like to know things as soon as possible, and we like things to be quick to the point. Information quickly is our buddy.

Mr. Wilbers then asks:
If technology is causing people to spend less time reading -- or perhaps causing them to do a different kind of reading -- what are its implications for writers and writing? Is it helping or hurting?
Reading onto the rest of his article, I've come to agree with him. While the internet is very helpful to writers, since we're able to find information quickly and when we need it. He calls it the "playground for inquisitive minds." As Mr. Wilbers goes on to say, when we quickly look at something and knowing when something happened or when it occurred is not the same as understanding what that date or information means to us historically, politically, and socially.  Say we know the date of 9/11 and what happened, but does that mean we understand how that has changed our country and ourselves? If 9/11 did not happen, I say not only our country, but the whole world would be different.

While finding out things on like Twitter, the short little nut of information is not the same as reading a novel about the same subject. While I could find something quickly about Aztecs on the internet, it is not the same as reading a novel about how the Fire Rites affected not only their culture then but the people of Central America today. A short tweet or facebook status does not have the same depth or emotion as actually talking to the person face to face.

Another quote from Mr. Wilber's article:
Whether on paper or on screen, I think we need to find those "quiet spaces opened up by the prolonged, undistracted reading of a book," for it is there "we regain the world by withdrawing from it just a little, by stepping back from the noise, the tumult, to discover our reflections in another mind."
 As he points out here, when we read a book we ignore the thoughts of what we could be doing, the noise and chaos of our daily lives and submerse ourselves in a world that is not like our own- even if it's nonfiction.

While Mr. Wilber has some good points, I think that the internet has not caused us to lose our abilities to read books. When I sit down with a good book, I am fully able to ignore everything else and just read. Maybe it's not the internet that is making Mr. Wilber and others "lose their abilities to read books" but they are not finding good books that keep their attention and make them think about that book through out their day.

Resource used for this post:

So, do you think that the internet could be a "crutch" to writers and readers? What about books, do you prefer paper over a screen? And why? Certainly the internet is very useful to writers, but do you think it also hinders us? Have you ever read a book that sounded really good, but when you sat down to read it, you discovered it wasn't what you expected? And why?


No comments:

Post a Comment

Any comments with profanity or comments that are hurtful/ mean will be removed. We appreciate hearing your thoughts. Remember, if you wouldn't say it to someone's face please do not say it on the internet.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...