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Technology Is Decimating Reading and Sense of Self

Author:

Jeff Zod is an avid reader, writer and researcher. He enjoys exploring new and old concepts.

Girl reading book

Girl reading book

"Knowing others is wisdom. Knowing the self is enlightenment. Mastering others requires force. Mastering the self requires strength.

— Lao Tzu

Tech and Sense of Self

Technology has definitely made pour lives easier. While this is laudable, technology has a dark and unexplored side. I will shed light on this dark side. I will be drawing from my knowledge of philosophy, technology, and literature.

Technology has made information on almost anything available at the click of a button. Google and other search engines have made searching easy. For many, the convenience of searching for information is a blessing.

Ancient philosophers have grappled with the sense of Self. Some argued that we are connected to each other through some invisible thread. Others thought that were distinct beings with no sense of connection to others. However, they all agreed on the sense of Self.

Socrates contended that the goal of philosophy was to "Know thyself".

Sven Birkerts

I read books to read myself

— Sven Birkerts

Ih his book The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age, Birkerts feared that qualities such as awareness of history, privacy, and valuation of individual consciousness were in danger of erosion. He feared that our sense of the continuity of history, our place in the centuries and in the cosmos would be lost forever. These were elevated and safeguarded for a long time by print media.

The proliferation of e-books and the increased use of smartphones have led to the nosedive of print media.



Books

Books

“Literature holds meaning not as a content that can be abstracted and summarized, but as experience,”

— Sven Birkets

Birkets feels that as the importance literature diminishes, sustained reading and writing - products of a focused mind would also diminish, we would thus be unable to grasp our own depth and the breadth of the world.

The thought of such a loss is frightening and devastating for readers. Birkets feels the same way too.

Birkets reminds us that a life of reading and writing is possible and worthwhile.


Ten, fifteen years from now the world will be nothing like what we remember, nothing much like what we experience now,”

— Sven Birkets

I can not resist the allure of new technology. Technology has reduced the number of books I read at any given period drastically. I try as much as I can to read e-books.

E-books can never replace books though. A new book has an enchanting smell and a heavenly feeling. The magic of reading has been lost. We all need to occasionally put our devices down and pick up a book.

I plan to read at least two books a week.

We will be swimming in impulses and data—the microchip will make us offers that will be very hard to refuse.

— Sven Birkets

I feel like a deer caught in the headlights. I desire to read more and know every day. Technology, on the other hand, offers me a faster way to accomplish tasks.

I can still remember the days when computers and the Internet were a luxury to most people. The internet was a glorious thing that enabled people to play games, read emails and look up information. I was excited, and I am still excited about new technologies.

On the flip side, I am reading less.

Reading has helped me to know things about myself that have often surprised me. Reading enables me to look inward and outward at the same time. Reflecting on the past, the present and the future gives me numerous ideas.

According to Birkets books do not alleviate loneliness. The power of books lies in their ability to make us look inward and outward, at the same time. The communion we seek as we read is not with others but it is with ourselves.


© 2019 Jeff Zod

Comments

Luis G Asuncion from City of San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, Philippines on November 22, 2019:

Yes because of the technology, traditional reading is slowly diminishing.

John R Wilsdon from Superior, Arizona on November 09, 2019:

I read whatever I am interested in regardless of the medium. If a book were printed in its entirety from a computer and then read, would it be the same as pulling one off of a dusty shelf at a library? And I imagine that modern printing houses use computers or some kind of copying tech to print their works. Perhaps reading a hardbound tome satisfies a need to remember the how things were? I think I read more now thanks to the Internet.

Jeff Zod (author) from Nairobi on September 27, 2019:

@amanda hey dear,

Thank you so much. I love the quote too. It's interesting to see how books make us do some self-reflection.

Jeff Zod (author) from Nairobi on September 26, 2019:

@littlenirvanas,

Thank you so much reading my work.I am humbled. Books are my friends and those who read are my best friends. I love the fact that you love reading.

#beautifulmind

Amanda Nechesa from Nairobi on September 26, 2019:

I read books to read myself...

That's one damn good quote...

Very informative, definitely reading less coz of technology

Jeff Zod (author) from Nairobi on September 25, 2019:

Hi Lora,

I am really happy that my article has had such a profound effect on you. This is why I write. Thank you so much for appreciating books. Books are my friends and I will love them forever.

Lora Hollings on September 24, 2019:

This is a great article, Jeff. You did a wonderful job summarizing this article by Birkerts. There are so many things that a reader gets from a book that can never be acquired from the internet. Just the enjoyment of reading a book is an experience that can never be achieved in any other fashion but to read for oneself. By relying on technology and electronics to get all our information is to definitely shortchange ourselves to experience the wonderful world of reading books and writing our own articles. It’s like reading Cliff notes as opposed to reading the entire book. How can you possibly pick up on all the subtle nuances of a character and the insight of the author in just reading a short synopsis of the book? There’s no way! When we read a book, it demands that our minds be really focused on what we are reading and we get a lot more out of that experience as opposed to reading it on the internet we are often distracted by other things that we may see or hear. My fondest memories growing up were my parents and sisters reading books to me as a child. How can that be replaced electronically? I can’t imagine reading a novel by Dickens, Twain, Louisa May Alcott, Lewis Carrol, Shakespeare, Daniel Defoe or H.G. Wells in any other fashion but a book. Nor would I want to! This statement by Birkerts is so true. "If we allow the importance of literature to diminish, products of a focused mind would also diminish, we would thus be unable to grasp our own depth and the breadth of the world. We all need to commit a certain amount of time daily or at least weekly to the awesome experience of reading a book for enjoyment and for our own sense of self and our place in history. Thanks for sharing!

Tori Leumas on September 24, 2019:

This is so true. I have found that sometimes I read ebooks more than physical books. Kids nowadays, (and yes, some people still call me a kid because I have not reached 30 yet(3 yrs to go)), but anyway, kids nowadays in kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school do not read nearly as much as they used to even 15-20 years ago. There are so many games on computers, game consuls, cellphones (smartphones), etc, that they don't really read real books or even play outside much anymore.

Jeff Zod (author) from Nairobi on September 24, 2019:

Hi Pamela,

Thank you so much for stopping by. Reading is like breathing to me.

I savour books every day. Reading has changed me in many ways. It has made me a better thinker and a better writer. I agree that the reading culture is dying among young people. Birkets predicted it almost twenty years ago.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 24, 2019:

I still love to read but I must admit I don't read as much as I once did, although if I love what I am reading I manage to make time to read. I really like the reasons you gave for reading and I must agree. I have learned many things over the years about myself while reading.

I am concerned, especially about younger people who may not read due to electronics and social media in general. I really enjoyed your article and I fear Birkets is right about the world.