The death of reading

I came across an article in the Washington Post this week and it has me worried.

I love to read. My office - in fact my whole house - is full of books I’ve read. But lately, I’ve found I don’t read as much as I used to.

The Washington Post says that’s because the internet and social media have killed the art of reading.

I know that sounds crazy when the internet is filled with pages screaming to be read. But it’s not proper, deep and determined reading.

The internet has trained us to scan. To read a couple of paragraphs and then allow ourselves to be distracted by click-bait in the side menu, or links to other articles.

Before you know it, the original source of your interest is several clicks ago and you’ve been led down a digital rabbit hole.

I feel like I’m being robbed of the enjoyment of reading. The Monthly is a great journal: outstanding writers and fascinating issues. But each article is a seriously long read. It’s hard work and takes a great deal of concentration.

And The Monthly is just a magazine. Starting a new book sometimes seems insurmountable – increasingly annexed as a ‘holiday project’.

In the book, The Shallows – what the internet is doing to our brains, author Nicholas Carr argues the internet is having intellectual and cultural consequences we never dreamed of.

Carr says, “Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a jet ski.”

He poses the question: “as we enjoy the internet’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply?”

I get the sense we are.

Neuroscientists put it down to the instant gratification that comes from a click-measured dose of dopamine. ‘Look! There’s another shiny new thing. Click…and another. Click. Click.’

I don’t want to be a dopamine junkie. After reading the Washington Post article, I’ve decided to dedicate a bit more time to deliberate, contemplative reading and rescue my power of concentration.