Don’t get me wrong: I’m not illiterate. Obviously. Yet I feel like it’s becoming more and more difficult (if not impossible) for me to read a longer text. And by that I mean an elaborate article, a short novel or basically anything that is longer than your average tweet. It’s been a few years that I noticed a decline in my reading abilities. When I was a teenager, I used to riffle through thick books within an afternoon, reading 100 pages per hour. But since I’m a student I’m getting slower and slower. Sure, the quality and therefore difficulty of my reading material has risen. But to this extent? I don’t think so.
For a long time I attributed this to my literary studies. Having to read all the time must have spoiled it for me. Maybe I was just constantly tired of it. Yet not even being on holidays could excite the spark to sit down with a lengthy book. I also began to notice that the distractedness I felt, when trying to read, had crept over into other areas of my life: „multitasking“ or having several stimuli at once has become my default mode of doing just about anything. While cooking I need some youtube videos, while cleaning music has to be playing and I can’t seem to eat alone without watching an episode of whatever series I’m currently procrastinating with.
It was just very recently that I discovered that I’m not the only one who has this problem and that apparently there are some discussions going on, about whether the internet might have rewired our brains in a way that we become able to juggle 10 open tabs and risotto making at once, but fail to deeply concentrate on one thing for a longer period. Through some online articles (of course!) I stumbled over The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr, which tries to explain and scientifically back up just that. Unfortunately it being a 280 page-long book I haven’t read it yet (as if that should surprise anyone at this point), but I promised myself to do it. A questionable bond this book now shares with about 50 other volumes on my bookshelf.
In the meantime what I told myself is that I could get back to reading with the help of the good old newspaper. So I got myself a students subscription and- hoarded the poor things on my living room floor because I felt guilty for not having read each line of each issue (hey, it’s a lot of precious paper that is put in my letterbox just after all). Obviously this didn’t help at all and now I’m not only behind on assignments for uni but I also have a stack of newspapers that really need to be read before I can allow myself to gently slide them into the recycling bin.
But maybe the only way to tackle this is the same way you should solve all of your problems: one by one. So after a long day of pointlessly overwhelming my senses with doing yet again a million tiny things far off my priority list for the entire afternoon, I will read one of those newspapers. Maybe.
To be continued…1