The changing habits of reading

The changing habits of reading

The world has become so competitive that reading just for the sake of it is a luxury for most

Reading is a wonderful habit. It is a kind of therapy, which can work wonders and act as a soothing balm to frenzied minds and frayed nerves. It is a tonic which brings a distinctive qualitative change in the whole persona of the individual who takes to it just like a duck takes to water. It is said that books are one’s best friends in life and stay loyal even when real friends in life betray one. Books are always there in the most difficult times and are rightly hailed as true companions. “A book is a gift you can open again and again” (Garrison Keillor).
Reading is a habit which not only increases knowledge but also improves language. It helps people in keeping themselves updated about the current issues and the present trends, besides increasing their creativity and imagination. Spending some amount of time on reading helps individuals to gain perspectives on various topics and issues. Reading also helps people in communicating their ideas in different ways. It helps them to understand the actual picture.
Unfortunately, the reading habit is on the decline these days, especially among the new generation. The advent of television and internet led to a certain negative impact on almost everybody, but especially teenagers and kids. They have become more materialistic and they get little time to go through books, newspapers, and magazines. The chief goal of people these days is to earn money, and not acquiring knowledge as their forefathers’ was.
It is true in one sense that the habit of reading books has gone digital. Some people prefer to read online, even on mobile. They even download novels from the internet on their mobile phones. Kindle and iPad have changed reading habits even further. We may soon see students carrying an iPad to school instead of textbooks.
A few avid readers have surrounded themselves with many computer screens, one devoted exclusively to e-mail, another to reading material, etc. They do almost all their reading of newspapers, text messages, e-mails, journal articles, and even books on screen. Search engines and hyperlinks (those underlined words or phrases that when clicked take you to a new web page) have turned the online literary voyage into a kind of island-hop.
Researchers believe that the reading experience online will be better than on paper. They are hoping to make reading on mobile phones faster and easier. Analysts expect mobile phones to evolve into a multipurpose “third screen”, along with televisions and computers displaying both pictures and text. A reading technique called Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) enables people to learn to read with good comprehension, though people find it awkward initially, but they warm up to it rather quickly. It tends to take all of a person’s attention, but also increases reading speed dramatically. A system called Buddy Buzz pauses at commas or the end of sentences, just as most readers do. If readers miss something, they can skip back to the beginning of the sentence.
However, it is not technology alone which is keeping children from reading books. Children are also under pressure to achieve in schools, which leaves them little time to enjoy a good book, be it fiction or otherwise. For mid-career professionals, too, reading is all about developing skills on the work-front that will help them grow in their careers. The world has become so competitive that reading just for the sake of it is a luxury for most.
With technology set to get only more sophisticated in future, there will never be the same amount of people who will sit down to read a book as there were in the past. However, some point out that just as the advent of Gutenberg’s printing press did not signal the end of handwritten messages, so too computers and other technology will not wipe out the traditional habit of reading.

The writer is a BA 6th semester student at Govt Degree College Sogam (Lolab), Kupwara

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