I know you might have asked the question yourself, here is my story.
I read like crazy when I was a kid. I would read whatever I could get my hands on, once it had legible words on it. From the dictionary to the bible and even the telephone directory, reading was my favorite hobby. I was never a guy who was that into sports, plus I was very sickly so that left me confined to my home environs a lot, which gave me plenty down time to read. I would read a whole Nancy Drew (yes I read the series and loved it) or Hardy Boys book in a day. It was like nothing.
As I grew older however, entering my late teens, and into the inevitable age of ever burgeoning technology, reading began to take a backseat. As most of my peers I got caught up in the shallow forms of entertainment. Sitcoms, TV series, music videos, and gossip became my new form of get down. This continued into my early twenties and even through college (I hated every minute of it, so I barely read anything that was suggested by my tutors).
>>> Fast forward to present day and not much has changed. Do not get me wrong, I read a lot more now than I did in my late teens and early twenties, but, I am no where near the level of mastery that engulfed most of my childhood. It is much easier for me to watch a hundred YouTube videos than read a hundred pages of a book. Is it that I have gradually changed with the culture shift towards more interactive forms of media? Apparently, but why?
The last book I read from start to finish was Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill last summer. An almost five hundred page book that literally took me all of July and August to complete. You see, I get easily distracted (a mild form of Attention Deficit Disorder is my excuse). Hence, I struggle to focus on any one thing for too long. At any given time I have 20+ tabs open on Google Chrome or a dozen apps open on my phone. Therefore, when I begin to read anything that requires concentration and a certain depth of engagement, it is hard for me to get fully involved. I am no scientist, but common sense has led me to attribute this change in my behavior as a result of the breadth of technology and information available to me now compared to 20 years ago.
…I grew up in a relatively middle class home. My mom was a Teacher and my dad a Farmer. They struggled to keep the household running smoothly with their small incomes, hence we did not have much luxuries. The biggest forms of entertainment was the television set (the one with that huge behind that were the flat screens of the 90’s) and a radio. Hence, I was inclined to find entertainment through other means. I did not even know much, if anything at all about computers at the time, so knowing about the internet would have been a prophecy for me then. So, books became my best friend.
Twenty years later and a lot has changed. There is YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, a trillion websites, smartphones, iPods, iPads, Alexa and the list goes on. The way I get information nowadays is a world away from my life in 1997. It is more engaged, more logged on, more signed in, more tracked, more keywords, more subscriptions, more wired, more gadgety, more encrypted, more snapped, more instagrammed, more facebooked, and more global. My distractions in those 20 years has increased ten fold, and I must admit, being the weakling I am, I have succumbed to the ills of this era. Despite, this however, deep down I have not lost that kid in me who had a hunger to learn, who had a love affair with words; and I notice he has been slowly creeping back to the surface in previous months.
In the latter part of last year I created a “Mission 30 Goal” (things I want to accomplish by age 30) which includes a few projects. These projects that I am crafting presently requires a lot of reading, research and when completed will focus on a ton of longform, in-depth content. This mission has given me the drive to pursue my reading again and has made me a fan of sites that focus on longform content such as Wait But Why and Longreads. My love affair is coming back again, she is making me cheat on the likes of YouTube and Netflix, who I have been messing around with for the past few years. I think they are getting jealous.
A part of my “Mission 30 Goal” is to become an avid blogger and write a book, hence this blog. It is serving as a “breaking-in” of sorts. A leeway back into familiar territory, a place where I originally found solace and peace. A place where I could be open minded, travel to unknown beyonds in a few lines and imagine something outside of my status quo. This has ignited a new fire in me, an old passion with a whole modern form of enthusiasm. Compared to 20 years ago, not only can I read words, but I can write them too and share them with you guys. I can build an audience, I can network, I can learn from other people, I can go beyond my bedroom even in underpants and not be frowned upon. For this reason, I have come to the conclusion that
chivalry is not dead reading or writing for that matter is not dead.
It is alive more than ever, capturing historic moments, giving us an escape, taking us away from our everyday realities. Many will say that video and other interactive forms of media are the future. That cannot be denied, but words are not going anywhere anytime soon. Research has shown that traffic and audiences of longform writing is growing more than ever (you can just check the popularity of the sites I mentioned above to see that). The fact is, as modern forms of media continue to rise, older generations and even the newer ones who cherish reading, will seek ways to indulge this old addiction.
Reading is not dead, I do not think it will ever be. As for my love affair with words, it is still maturing, just the other day she got in a fight with Netflix in my bed. I don’t think it will ever end. Sigh!
What are your thoughts on reading?