The Decline of Reading

Categories: Books, Education, News
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Earlier this week NPR did a story titled “Is the Internet Making Us Stupid?” The title caught my attention as I was skimming through article titles in my feed that morning. So I marked it as one to listen to. I thought the story was very interesting. We do seem to be a society that wants things to come faster and more compact without as much effort as before. Why read a whole book when you can just read the cliff notes, or even better, read a review of the book on the internet?

I thought this was an interesting concept and thought about it a bit. When suddenly I was faced with a real life example. And it wasn’t so bad as someone struggling to read the 1296 pages that make up War and Peace. No, it was someone who couldn’t get through the 369 words I had written expressing my opinion on a topic. Instead they did a little bit of skimming and a lot of assuming and missed the point completely.

Are we becoming a society with the skills to read words but not understand them? Literacy skills might be there, but have people become too lazy to exercise them? I fear for the literacy of our culture if that is the case. I fear for a society where abbreviations are becoming more common than actual words. It is not a literate person who cannot write without using abbreviations. A person who cannot write out the full word “you” and instead simply says “u” will never impress me, and that’s just one example. It’s a slap in the face to all those teachers who tried to teach them to read and write when people do that. I will admit that as long as a language is being spoken it will change, but I would hope those changes would yield improvements to the language, not be changes that are slowly killing it.

Me, I still love to read. But I don’t think the balance between reading and time on the computer is as it should be. I’m going to go spend the afternoon at the library. I’m going to read some books and write out full words that make up sentences and thank all my teachers who taught me to read and write.

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