I ran across this article on Medium by Hugh McGuire, Why can’t we read anymore? Or, can books save us from what digital does to our brains? At first, I thought it was your typical print book versus ebooks screed. It turns out, its not, but I am not exactly sure what it actually is….
Last year, I read four books.
That’s a strange statement from the man who started LibriVox and Pressbooks, but there it is. He goes on to talk about concentration, digital distraction, dopamine and essentially digital addiction (without actually calling it by that name). He quotes a neuroscience study on multitasking (which turned out to be from a paid PR post).
His ultimate conclusion as to why he can’t read books:
I cannot read books because my brain has been trained to want a constant hit of dopamine, which a digital interruption will provide
This digital dopamine addiction means I have trouble focusing: on books, work, family and friends
Oh, yeah, and television is a problem, too.
McGuire goes on to talk about how he solved his problem, he can read again and it’s wonderful, etcetera…. And, BTW, he’s also starting an email newsletter about books that we can sign up for.
So here’s my confusion: I get that digital addiction is a real thing and that he had a problem with it. But that doesn’t mean that WE can’t read anymore. And I certainly don’t get how books are going to save US from what digital does to OUR brain. What is the benefit of turning what obviously is a personal issue into an TL;DR allness statement that claims-to-be-but-isn’t-really about the nature of books and reading? How is this OUR problem?
Somehow, I manage to muddle along, work on a computer all day, check my email and social media, watch an couple of hours of TV daily, write, blog, podcast and still read more than a hundred books a year. All digital books, too. And I am sure I am not alone.
How about you? Are you having a problem reading?