David L. Ulin has a great article in the L.A. Times called “The Lost Art of Reading.” He hooked me right away with the first sentence:
Sometime late last year — I don’t remember when, exactly — I noticed I was having trouble sitting down to read.
My attention also seems to wander more than it used to. I toggle between Twitter, Gmail, Facebook, and other sites–and that’s just on personal time. At work I often have several computer tabs open at once.
He also states:
“…books enlarge us by giving direct access to experiences not our own. In order for this to work, however, we need a certain type of silence, an ability to filter out the noise…
… Today, it seems it is not contemplation we seek but an odd sort of distraction masquerading as being in the know. Why? Because of the illusion that illumination is based on speed, that it is more important to react than to think, that we live in a culture in which something is attached to every bit of time (emphasis mine).“
I enjoy using Twitter, despite the casual dismissals from non-users that require explaining how it works. Often times I get a jump on “info news” before it filters down into listservs, multiple blogs and other sources. This gives me soemthing of a mini “high”.
Maybe we’re inexorably moving towards constant connectivity (not a new idea, I know–and some of us are already there)– like the transition from storytelling to cuniform. Part of me wants to jump on board willy-nilly (and maybe buy the iPhone that I can ill afford). The other part of me –the part that is tempted to reduce or eliminate my Twitter/Facebook use altogether–wonders what it is exactly I’d be leaving behind.