What Has Reading Become?

Will books and reading become obsolete?

Growing up a lot has changed since I have been born. I was born 1987, near the end of one of biggest rises in the economy and the massive boost in technology. Internet became accessible in our homes. It allowed people to start connecting with other's around the world. To talk about what ever and whenever. Chat rooms were a huge boost in connections with people, then came video websites. Places like ebaums world. A website dedicated to whatever videos people wanted to upload. Then came YouTube. A company that did a better job marketing and understanding the constant change going on in the world. Soon, Amazon became a huge success and let us not forget cell phones. Cell phones was a huge change for the economy and social life. You could now contact friends and family from practically anywhere you were. It led to what I believe the first major change in how we saw change in efficiency. No longer did you have to wait to call someone you wanted to talk to. There was no need any more to wait to get home and use your home phone. Before cell phones and chat rooms, there was no instant connection, instant gratification of connecting with people. It took time to build relationships over the phone. You couldn't just call and say a few words and hang up and ignore if the person called back. We do that all the time now with texting, we say a few words and if the person responds we can choose to message back or wait. So much now is done out of convenience and efficiency of self. 

Lets look at the microwave now, almost instant food upon your demand, no more waiting for the oven to heat up. It is amazing what technology has done for us and continues to do for us. But, with everything new and good, also comes bad. I remember as a kid in elementary school, getting to go to the scholastic book fair at my school. I wasn’t much of  reader, but the library always had a certain feel to it, there was a certain fascination being surrounded by books. That was one of the few places at the time, where you could get your hands on the new books and at a good deal right then and there. Now, at the same time Amazon was setting up and becoming one of the first major online book stores. It took some time for people to catch on to the whole online shopping, but now, we love it. We use it almost daily and can see and shop for anything instantly. The scholastic book fair was about the most convenient book store you could really get back in the day. It came right to your library at your school. Now, I don’t know if they still do those fairs, but if they do, I can only imagine the scale it no longer is at.

What does all this have to do with reading becoming obsolete? Well, let’s look at technology some more and see what it has brought to the ever changing generations. Sadly, my generation I feel is the least societal addition. Many people in my generation have grown up with, cell phones, internet, iPad, 1 min meals, massive fast food, YouTube, and so much more. All these things have brought about the ability to make things happen almost instantly. You can now watch movies online without having to go to the video store and hope there is a copy of the new movie you want to watch. There is no more having to wait for your parents to get off the phone so you can use the internet. Then, when you did have the chance to get on, it took about ten minutes just to connect. YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, all these things bring either music or videos instantly to your fingertips. There is on more need to go to the store and listen to CD's and see which one you want. No more waiting for MTV to play your favorite music video at ten pm at night.

No more having to wait for your favorite song to hit the radio and hope that you are home to record it with your cassette player. And man, was it the worst when the radio host would talk over the intro to your favorite song. There are all these instant changes to world, to our needs and wants. Whatever we want, we can pretty much have right away or wait a few days through the mail, instead of waiting a month.

Books, have had quite the challenge to keep up with technology. With all this instant technology, reading is something that can’t be done instantly. The best you can do is get a synopsis of a book or cliff notes. But there is no way around to getting the details and understanding the book. There is no way to make reading convenient. With online movie/TV data basis, there is no longer commercials for many of our favorite TV shows. Leave out commercials and what do you get? The instant satisfaction of getting to watch your show nonstop. Almost nothing gets in the way of our chance at seeing and enjoying our favorite things in life now. Except reading, reading cant be done through watching and shutting off  your brain. For me though, reading was always tough. I have always had a hard time paying attention. So obviously, reading was one of those horribly torturous things to me. I would skim read just about every book I had to read for school, book reports sucked. I look back in time, and I see the year I was born in, was only the tip of the iceberg with the change in societal patience.

Now today, you can pretty much type in any book and someone will have notes online for it. Allowing you to get just about all the information you need for your report. But again, that leaves out the experience of reading. Today, I have found what I enjoy reading and it isn’t the books the school made me read, that’s for sure. Anyways, with commercials becoming almost obsolete, the need to wait to call someone, the need to travel to the movie store, the need to wait a month for your new toy, is no longer around. All these small changes in waiting, kills the need for patience and gratitude. It leaves people open for the endless idea of, now, now, now. So, as you can see, there is a trend here, technology gets better and our wait times get smaller. And from what I have seen, as technology progresses the need to wait, having patience, dwindles. People get upset if they do not see their fast-food in less than five minutes. Or get angry when their coffee is taking longer than usual and they are running late. It's not the baristas fault you are going to be late for work.

All these small but massive changes in technology, I believe has killed our attention spans. I am even guilty of it at times. Many times I forget where I came from and the blessings I have in my life with technology and I become impatient. But these days I have a much improved control over my patience. I am able to catch myself when I trip up on my attention span. Again, as technology progresses attention spans decrease. And reading is something where you need a long attention span. Reading doesn’t come with a skip button or live characters acting out the complete plot. It takes time, energy, and the willingness to do it. Book stores shut down for the longest time, now you will see some, but not near as many as there used to be. You could say all books are now sold online. But can many people talk about their favorite writer over their favorite musician, actor, actress, or TV show? Not many, books used to be everywhere, it used to not take a hit movie for an authors book to become known. You used to see new hit artists books everywhere. Now, you only see them online or in the few book stores that are left, and of course the airport.

We have so much going on in our lives instantly now, that we so often forget about books and reading. We are too busy posting on Facebook or Instantgram to let everyone know what we are doing. Rather than absorbing a good story or a good lesson from a book. I am not saying you have to read to gain knowledge, but the best knowledge I believe are in books, that and personal experience in life. If I still have not put the possibility of reading becoming obsolete, or at least extremely minimal. How about this, there is now short hand for speaking, people say things like, " That’s tots, (that’s totally cool), or "bae" ( baby). People even mix in short hand text, "2moro, or IDK, (I don’t know). I use a few short hand text, but every time I catch myself doing it I cringe. Is it that difficult to write out a whole coherent sentence? What is so important that taking another five seconds to write will mess things up? If you can’t talk much, why not just call the person and let them know? But, no one really calls anymore, it’s almost uncomfortable and seems rude as well.

Cutting things in half for efficiency can be great, great for business, learning, (If it still heeds the same amount of results as the original or better.). Even driving can be another thing to cut in half for efficiency. But again, reading isn’t one of those acts that you can cut in half. There is no short hand. Imagine if a doctor shorthand read his whole medical school career. Or your doctor text you that you had cancer instead of calling you and ask you to come in and be there emotionally? Technology doesn’t just help us, it can hinder us and make us impatient and blind to what is really important in the world. I believe reading is one of those. With the drastic changes in the world that never cease and things taking less time. Presses us to act as technology does, quick and efficient. I really can’t believe this is a thing, TL; DR, (Too long didn’t read).

How impatient can we be that something is too long to read? I can understand if it is some story you care nothing for and decide not to finish it. But doing things like this, puts in the idea that it is okay to not complete something or ignore the information or meaning behind something. It creates this idea that all you have to do is only engage in what is convenient. Reading and books are two amazing things, without them the world would progress slowly or not at all. There are places where getting the education to read and write is still difficult, just getting the books to learn can be difficult. We so often take for granted what we have now or had. 

Reading is not convenient, nor is it efficient.Nor will it ever be, it is one of the few things in the world that, no matter how much technology changes, it will remain the same. 

Well, those are my thoughts on what reading is becoming. If you have any thoughts feel free to let me know! 

  Thank you for reading. 


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