Reading into the situation

Enio Chinca, Staff Reporter

I have a question. How many people reading this article still read books for fun? Be honest. Probably not many of you. I am sure there are still lots of people who love reading, and I by no means want to discredit you. However, how many of you who don’t read anymore recall loving reading as a kid? Does anyone remember being trapped in a story for hours on end? I certainly do. What has changed that we no longer love the stories we read, that took us on journeys around the world and beyond? I asked many people about what they think caused this phenomenon, and the feedback I got was mixed.

Some people said the English program in schools was to blame. They cited deep textual analysis as the beginning of the end for their career as readers. When asked about his opinion on reading, Alex Beisner said, “When you’re young and you are learning you read, you can choose what you read. But as you get older and get told what to read, it just becomes more of a hassle.”

This idea makes perfect sense at first glance. School turned the pleasure of reading into work, and students found reading fiction books wildly less entertaining after dissecting an act of Macbeth for an hour.

However, the flaw with this theory is obvious just by what people here at Case Western Reserve University study and love. I am sure students here had dreams of being doctors as kids and are still studying to become doctors. Why did studying science in school not dissuade kids from enjoying biology and chemistry now? I don’t mean studying for exams, because no one enjoys that. I am referring to the interest people still have in actually learning more about science and medicine. All the people I interviewed echoed the same idea that they still find new knowledge about science very interesting.

Thus, I think people’s opinions toward reading are due a cultural shift to instant entertainment. Books require patience and focus, something our generation is not known for. Long entertainment like books were replaced with instant entertainment like Netflix and Instagram. According to psychologists, our brains work similarly to the social media we use, storing memories as keywords that are easily recalled when mentioned by another person or source, rather than hardwiring entire memories all together. TV shows can call on our memories, using visual cues and common plot tropes, and social media uses keywords and pictures to help us link our old memories with the information we receive.

Sophomore Paige Hughes agreed: “Technology taught us to rely on immediate gratification, whereas books are a gradual process that we have lost the patience for.”

This is not meant to be an attack on anyone, since I am one of the many who have stopped reading. I think it’s important, however, that we as a generation at least take note of what is happening, before famous and exciting books like “Sherlock Holmes” or “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” turn from mystery to history.

Enio Chinca is a Staff Reporter for Arts & Entertainment.