Why Reading is Taking a Backseat to Other Media and Why It’s Still Valuable

In this current generation of instant messaging, endless top 10 videos, and highly-engrossing virtual worlds to engage in, the archaic entertainment of reading for pleasure is often passed by. It is sad as someone who works at a library to see so few students check out books outside of academic purposes, for reference or for mandated reading by teachers. Even with the large presence of ebooks, reading seems to take a backseat to more appealing forms of leisure.
The form of the novel and short story was once the most accessible method to engross people into another world, where the reader could escape his problems temporarily in narration told by words. People of that time, however, could not imagine what experiences television dramas, cinematic blockbusters, access to vast albums of music, and interactive, realistic graphics held in store. With many people on busy schedules, the input of time and effort to read a 600 page novel, which could take many hours to read, is less favorable than its movie adaptation, which could be finished in one sitting.
With the unstoppable force of the internet, too, the expanding web of interpersonal sharing requires that information be presented in fast, quickly digestible bits; there is a growing trend of online articles, even from elite tier newspaper outlets, presenting their material in a manner that accommodates the fickle attention of online consumers who want it short and sweet. Enlightened, well-crafted writing is taking a backseat to clickbait, listicles, and rants, which sadly means that in the internet world, quality loses to quantity.
Our society’s ever-increasing demand for time efficiency and access to immersive technology inversely discourages people to pick up a book, but there is pleasure gained from putting in the effort to read that cannot be obtained from other mediums. With words, the reader is given the materials to craft a story in the form and style of his own creation; while shows and videos simply require you to watch, literature requires you to construct. Even in comic books, if well executed, there is this magical effect where the words and pictures flow into an imaginary motion, thus giving the reader the experience of “filling in the spaces” in the story.
Reading also strengthens the mental muscle, building linguistic skills and personal vocabulary, as well as increasing processing and comprehension. It can boost your imagination, which helps your creativity in every passion. Reading can also force people to think critically or philosophically, to form their own opinion on a passage idea that can open doors to new ideas; it also makes the reader more culturally rounded, as they become familiar with customs, phrases, and people more than they would have they just looked up facts on Google.
And while to say that novels are not as appealing to the modern world as they once were, there is still access to droves of works easily accessible by the same internet that behaves against it. If one wishes to, he could spend his entire life reading selections from Amazon or other vendors. Even if printed text becomes obsolete, which gradually it is, electronic books will still be produced, whether people read them or not. So even though there are many other media to grab your attention, if you want to exercise your mind and enjoy a story without it being spoon-fed, try reading.
Ethan Burton
2/27/2017

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