We aren’t reading anymore


Haley Spanier

Here are some examples of literature you might be missing out on.

Steven Hughes, Writer

We all know it. With modern pastimes and conveniences, it’s easy to understand. We (as people) simply are not reading like we used to. Many people feel too busy, too distracted or too impatient to pick up a book nowadays. In fact, if you ask the majority of teens, they’ll tell you they rarely read and when they do it’s not for pleasure.

Obviously this doesn’t mean we are not capable of reading. In fact, to say we don’t read is untrue; anti-reading kids now read more words from texts each day than the previous generation of non-readers would conceive as possible. But despite that fact, kids are still not looking to the medium of text in literature like they are with video or visual arts and athletics.

And the defense for this behavior is obvious–it is a new age of technology.  It could be argued that new mediums of expression are just as valuable as classic literature. If that’s true than why bother with such a relatively time consuming practice?

Well for starters, it is scientifically proven to help your brain develop in fresh, interesting ways.

New studies, testing the effect of reading a novel on the brain, suggest that because reading strongly incorporates many different areas of the brain at once, it is a method of not only strengthening, but changing pathways of connectivity in the brain. Needless to say, connectivity in the brain is literally a way of bringing new perspective on life.

Which is what reading is all about. Before the 2000s, the internet and electronic platforms of media simply didn’t exist. Until then, the only place a person could find (or put) answers to life’s questions for others to find was in books. Now, with the advent of modern media, many of these answers are being lost, overlooked by people searching the depths of Google and various social media to find what they feel they are missing.

Because, at their core, that is what books do. They help us find solutions to life’s many complex problems through the experiences and ideas of others. Which means that by it’s very nature, literature is a tool for empathy, which is the only way to find insight from other perspectives.

Without literature, it is difficult to portray human beings as the intricate, profound beings that they are. In today’s society of shallow media and glorified bullying, it is more important than ever for people to see others as equally deep and involved as themselves. In fact, many of the vices we see at large in our world today might be more easily fixed if more people looked to the wisdom of the past with enthusiasm.

Then, perhaps like most things, the best choice is to balance the power of new media in modern life with the values of media from the past.  With literature as a foundation for empathetic learning, paving the way to a better future may not be as difficult as it seems.