The Fault in Our Reading Habits
June 8, 2023
Do you remember the last time you read a book?
While some will comment on the book they are currently reading, the majority will need to take a second to think about the last time they read a book out of their own leisure. In this day and age reading has become significantly less popular, despite its growing importance in our world as social media begins to encompass more of our daily lives and change our societal values. Since 1984 the percentage of 17-year-olds who are weekly readers has dropped from sixty-four percent to forty percent (Forbes). Our age group, teenagers, have placed significantly less importance on reading, due to our differing lifestyle from, say our parents. The rapid evolution of technology has impacted how we take in information, spend our free time, and gain an education, which thus pushes traditional reading out making way for current trends.
The question is: why? Why is the popularity of traditional reading waning? The average American will spend the equivalent of seven minutes reading a day, besides their accounted for school work (Cultural Daily). While reading has experienced a sharp decline in recent years, there has been a gradual decrease in traditional reading for several decades, leading to a lack of exposure. The evolution of technology parallels the decline of traditional reading, as recent generations place less importance on reading, consequently passing such down to younger generations. Reading a book for pure enjoyment is foreign for teenagers who only ever gain reading experience through assigned readings from their classes, which involve a variety of discussions, quizzes, and assignments. This devalues the leisure factor of a book and categorizing reading as a burden. But, while each of these factors plays a large role in the depreciation of reading, EBHS students emphasize the influence social media has had on their reading habits. Although social media has become increasingly consuming, it has also formulated a “very large book community” housing recommendations and reviews, which gives avid readers an “outlet for sharing one’s love for reading and books”, says junior Rebecca Post. The ever growing presence of readers on social media has “inspired [students] to read more frequently”, says junior Olesya Naryshkina, out of their comfort zone, expanding their knowledge through introduction to different topics.
Reading allows readers to step outside of their reality and immerse themselves into the storyline and the author’s world they’ve created. Rebecca Post describes it as “no better feeling than getting lost in a book” diving “into those worlds and never [coming] out.” A book can ignite a connection between the reader and the storyline fueling a reader’s creative and critical thinking skills. Reading opens readers “eyes and minds to numerous issues” which they have become increasingly “passionate about”, says Olesya Naryshkina. As well as configure role models which readers aspire to be through the sharing of personal experiences and stories, like Mona Hanna Attisha, for Olesya regarding “her dedication to ensuring social justice within the medical field” Olesya comments. With over 8 billion cell phone subscriptions worldwide, reading has become more important than ever (World Economic Forum). As it “opens numerous corridors of discussion” through “exposure to immense amounts of knowledge”, says Olesya Naryshkina, thus elevating our marketplace of ideas. Reading gives readers the opportunity to take a second to enjoy their surroundings, finding presence and peace in the moment. So, next time you’re aimlessly on your phone, think about sitting down and cracking open a book.