Are People Even Reading Anymore?
Medium says they are.
In a few articles I’ve read recently, people are apparently flocking to read — on Medium. The articles all suggest that the more content you put out there, the more people are interested in reading your stuff.
But is that really true?
The small bubble I’m in — the people I’m surrounded by — barely even read anymore, unless you count Tweets. But 140 characters or less maketh not a reader, methinks?
Instagram captions are no better (believe me, I’ve dabbled in that, too). Trying to write something compelling based on an unequivocally uncompelling image feels straight out of my 10th-grade board exams. And I only chose that back then because writing an essay about my favourite family member felt much less imaginative.
Back in the day, people read books, I believe. Lots and lots of them. Personal libraries were a mark of pride; a symbol of intellectual prowess. People read before they turned off their bedside lamps, happy words swirling around their mind’s eye behind closed lids. People read to their children. People read on buses. Trains. Wherever and whenever they could.
“Have you read this?” they’d ask each other excitedly. “The latest so-and-so is nothing compared to their debut.” “Really? I thought their style had vastly improved.” And I would agree, too, if I knew what they were talking about.
But I don’t, you see, because I’m not reading. And if I’m not reading, I’m happy to assume no one else is, either.
And there’s no one to blame but ̶m̶e̶ television.
I meant my television, of course. Did you honestly think I meant me? Oh, please. It could never be my fault.
I mean, Roald Dahl put it best when he wrote his poem on television, obscurely titled, On Television:
The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set —
Or better still, just don’t install
The idiotic thing at all.
He’s right, of course. The only thing is, he’s referring to children, so I suppose it doesn’t really apply to me. Besides, if I have to really look into it — technically, I don’t actually own a television set.
Black mirrors don’t count.