Are People Reading More or Less

A lot of people bemoan the fact that young people don’t read any more, and I do too. Being a teacher, I’m bothered my students are not more familiar with books, and being a parent I’m definitely bothered that my kids don’t read enough, that they will never appreciate the books I appreciated.
But, I remember when I was a kid, a lot of adults complained about the same thing. They blamed television. Now, it’s the internet that gets the blame.
But, in a sense, I feel that not only is that blame misplaced, but that people are reading more today than ever before. They aren’t reading more books, or even more magazine articles, but they are reading. They are reading whatever shit people have copied and pasted onto the internet, and the semi-literate comments that follow, but it is reading. They may not be in a school environment, but they do get corrected on their spelling (one teacher with one red pen will correct one student’s error once. It may not have an impact at all. Make a spelling error on Facebook, a dozen people will jump down your throat)
So, they are learning to read and they are learning to write. Generally not about anything brilliant. People are a dull lot, by and large, and always have been. But, for people whose literary tastes were not that sophisticated to begin with, social media has actually forced them to be a little bit literate.
I doubt that social media is actually increasing anybody’s intelligence, although you can pick up an interesting factoid now and again. But I doubt it’s doing us any serious damage, either.

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