Reading in the Age of Netflix

The struggle is real. The 21st century has spawned technological advancements. There’s Netflix, razor sharp video gaming graphics, iPhones, reality T.V. and so much more. All these phenomena have the combined effect of making it harder to justify sitting alone in silence to read.

Some good news is that we have seen a huge increase in the amount of movies based on books. This is a great time for readers because we get the chance to see our most favorite stories on the big screen. But for those who haven’t read the stories, what incentive do they have to actually read the book after they have watched the movie?

Movies have an advantage over books because they can pack a huge amount of stimulus into a 2 hour window. More people watch movies so you will have more people to share your experience with, and you can watch movies together as a group. For people who want to get into the loop on A Game of Thrones or The Hunger Games, the easier option is always to just watch the show or movie.

Recent studies, as reported by The Telegraph, show that the human attention span has decreased significantly since the year 2000. Apparently, a goldfish can hold their attention longer than the average human! Because of the instant gratification style of our entertainment, our brain is being trained to want more stimulus in a shorter timeframe. This is the opposite of what books offer the reader. Reading is a slow brooding affair with a high demand of effort on the part of the reader.

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The good news is however, despite the blooming radiance of the technological era, print books sales are still on the rise. Somehow people are finding ways to turn off their phones, close their laptops, and open a book.

In a recent article by Abe Books, Jessica Doyle writes about how she overcame her ‘Netflix addiction’; “my rehab came in the form of a two week family vacation.” During her vacation she was away from all the trappings of the modern world. It was her, her family of book readers, and her books. In this story is an important tip for those who feel like they are not reading as much as they think they should.

Escape. Go somewhere and stay there for a while. Only bring books with you. Give your mind no other form of entertainment but books. If you are really struggling with an addiction to your phone or your streaming service, take a week long vacation without technology. You don’t have to travel far, just a few paces from your computer. Remember what it is like to feel total immersion in a book. Reap the rewards of participating with your author, discover the multitudes of metaphors and hidden truths within any good text. Remember why you fell in love with reading in the first place. Once you can do that, you will realize exactly how shallow your flatscreen T.V. really is. 

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