15 votes

Reading in the Age of Constant Distraction

3 comments

  1. ThatFanficGuy Link
    So, I just posted the link as a separate topic, then checked the group, then deleted my topic. I'd also written a comment to elaborate on the value of reading as it pertains to my life. I'd like...

    So, I just posted the link as a separate topic, then checked the group, then deleted my topic. I'd also written a comment to elaborate on the value of reading as it pertains to my life. I'd like to still share the comment.


    The author, with the help of quotes from Sven Birkerts – the author of The Gutenberg Elegies – presents a case for reading as a way of to experience "deep time", which could, perhaps be summarized as the resting opposite of Cal Newport's idea of "deep work". Birkerts' book was written in 1994, when the electronic distraction were only starting to gain steam. Even then, Birkerts was worried about how it could erode the way we spend time – deeply, engagedly – and turn it into a shallow, superficial, skimming consumption of an ever-increasing volume of information.

    I barely read these days. I used to, when I was a teenager, but now, it seems like a chore that I have to do to do well, and things like never go well. I'm anxious about reading the same way I'm anxious about exercising, or working on the personal projects, or even watching films sometimes. I'm not sure why, but it feels like such a massive undertaking that I can't possibly scale it. From what I'm reading online, and from what I'm seeing in other people, it's common to others, as well.

    Coincidentally, my writing has not proliferated for years, save for one particularly-long fanfiction project, and all the comments I leave on the Internet. (Perhaps counting the latter is my grasping at straws to maintain some semblance of remaining active in the writing department, which is a bad sign.) Can't help but think of creativity as an act of breathing. I used to think I can't breathe in because I haven't breathed out. Maybe I can't breathe out, safe for a few short sprints, because I don't have any air.

    2 votes
  2. [2]
    DonQuixote Link
    This passage from the article made me think of another modern distraction: evaluating previous predictions about the future to see if they came true in our present time. Is this what our quest for...

    As the culture around him underwent the sea change of the internet’s arrival, Birkerts feared that qualities long safeguarded and elevated by print were in danger of erosion: among them privacy, the valuation of individual consciousness, and an awareness of history—not merely the facts of it, but a sense of its continuity, of our place among the centuries and cosmos.

    This passage from the article made me think of another modern distraction: evaluating previous predictions about the future to see if they came true in our present time. Is this what our quest for continuity has become?

    1 vote
    1. ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
      Humans have always done that – especially the anxious and the curious types. Making predictions not new to us. What's knew is the sheer amount of data we have at our fingertips – and the new,...

      Humans have always done that – especially the anxious and the curious types. Making predictions not new to us. What's knew is the sheer amount of data we have at our fingertips – and the new, awesome tools to analyze the vast virtual consciousness we've developed.

      The world's become stressful. The news barrage of THREATS and DANGERS, big and small, the speculations, the false leads, the narrative-weaving, the politicizng, the powermongering... That, in top of prices rising faster than paychecks, and children education industry – kindergartens and schools – twisting itself in all kinds of ways, and the omnipresence of the often-vicious Internetsphere, and the existential dread from the staggering rate of technological and social advancement... How can we not become stressed? And from that point on, how can we not try and wrestle the little bit of control that lies in trying to predict the future?