Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Effect of the Internet on Reading

This week, we're reading Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh.  The book was originally (and still is, I believe) a webcomic.  They tend to be short, succinct and fast, in all honesty, much like most internet reading.  So what kind of effect is the internet having on our reading skill.*

People tend to read less physical books these days.  We are living in an instant type of world, where our attention spans are getting shorter by the second.  Even if we are the kind of person to sit down and read a whole book (which, on this blog, most of us probably are), we still don't always resort to physical books.  We buy Kindle's and Nooks because we want to be able to buy books when we want them.  We don't want to have to wait for the cheaper paperback, or then be forced to lug around a large book.  Newspapers, magazines: they all come digitally now.

The internet has also contributed to our shorter attention spans.  We want things that we can consume in small, sixty second blurbs.  So webcomics have become a big thing (and once again proving that even comics are turning digital.)  While I don't read a lot of webcomics, I get all of my "newspaper" comics in my email, keeping from having to buy and actual physical copy of the newspaper.

We read all our news stories on instantaneous blurbs or headlines as we browse our news feed on Facebook (which, at one point in time, was not so easy to post/read on.  You used to have to visit each individual profile.) 

So is all of this information dumping bad?  For the physical book, probably.  However, maybe not so much for the individual.  My fiance rarely, if ever, picks up a physical book.  If he does, it's probably a programming book that he's glancing through to find something specific.  So I always tease him about his lack of reading skills.

However, he once pointed out to me that he DOES read.  He reads news websites daily, catching up on politics and current events.  Give him a page with some interesting Sonic facts and he will read it from start to finish.  Don't even get me started when he manages to stumble on Wikipedia (I recently found out WAY more about Lucille Ball's life and career than I think I ever needed to know.  And I LIKE Lucille Ball.)

So is the internet destroying our ability to read?  Well, yes, but not because they don't offer reading material.  It's mostly because we can't stop looking at cat gifs long enough to read.

*At no point should this be taken as 100% fact.  We don't actually back up our ideas with sources around here.

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