Why we should read.

I used to dedicate time to do focused reading, a lot. My childhood and adolescence self set aside as much time as my older version dedicates to read indecipherable social media posts. Am I really more informed though? I feel like most of my consumption falls under areas that are un-actionable to me. I cannot be the only person that feels like this. I mean the internet is huge.

This post could be a tweet.

Actually, any time I consider myself informed is after a chunk of focused reading or scrutiny over my writings or ideas from peers. I do not have the traffic to get that kind of criticism from random strangers on the internet. yet

People discussing this topic are often unintentionally wrong themselves by taking the issue of garbage content consumption habits as an equal to a problem of self control. Somehow you have to read because it is superior to social media or reading substack, it is better for your mental health and you have to ditch digital to have a clearer judgement. I would suggest that none of those held any weight in my case of reading more than before.

Ever tried to not thinking about a big grey elephant? More you thought about not thinking about it probably it just popped with up in your mind’s eye. It is like abstaining from social media or other modern violators of your attention. Social media or social mediatized platforms are literally engineered to maximize engagement whatever its contents are. It feels like people are looking at the wrong direction while trying to re-claim their focus and engage in thoughtful content at the same time. Most of the internet are visual and text-based platforms like twitter, substack or medium have inclinations to turn towards either ‘community platforms’ with recycled content for virtual likes or gets destroyed in usability department after a big VC round. There are little or no incentive on the net to make things readable and empower you to read. Internet platforms, device manufacturers or app makers need to measure attention and interaction while thoughtful reading gives none of it. Collectively, by using platforms that deliberately combat attention we are doing ourselves a textbook disservice. The answer is to separate these two in their own time blocks.

We expect too much from our digital co-existence. It is very much unlikely to have a health reading routine where you have the time and focus to digest and iterate on your reading while connected digitally all the time. Productivity and digital detox apps would not help either. So much time on the internet is wasted confusing simple reading to be informed and reading that adds substance and done with intent. When we confuse occasional video-essay on youtube or daily twitter visit with plain reading with intent. In the latter intent is manufactured and source for the interaction of intent does not originate from the individual. When you deliberately open up a book or article intent originates from you. They are not comparable. A twitter coverage of a salient issue is there to inform you, this is not enough to go deeper and produce your own take on the situation. Think of your issue salience on the internet as a tupperware cup. Social media has a reason to rapid fire a lot of topics at the same time. You open your bird app and there are commentary on geopolitics, tech, official news coverage for inflation, commentary on crypto. You tupperware cup is a total of all the comments and voices heard for any given issue, you may have more than one tupperware at a given time, after all things are not equally salient. However, they are just a total of voices! You need to step back and go deeper on the fundamentals. Focused reading is just you selecting one more more topics and have another person relay their train of thinking through another medium. Over time you may recognize that plain reading gives you more choice to choose what you read, like or disassociate. Social media gives you neither and it is not just about the algorithm too. It is a mimicry or a book from an internet persona that changes its main topics depending on the time of the day, as long as we keep treating it as a book. It is not. We need to take social media as the alternative socialization corner or the public square as it is.