I remember summer holidays during my middle-school years. On most days, I would be lazing around on the carpeted floor at one corner of the British Council library, with just a Roald Dahl classic in my hand. There was this constant race between my friend Anindita and I over who could read more books every week. As we got older, studies took precedence, and growing older still, life happened!
I have learned to realise, much to my anguish, that I have lost the urge to regularly visit libraries, and even outgrew the habit of reading altogether.
Reading books is a timeless pursuit, a pastime that we were all too familiar with. In recent times, with massive developments in technology, entertainment of all forms, shapes and sizes is only a click away, and reading seems tedious, and outrageously redundant!
Watching a movie inspired by a New York Times Bestseller seems like a far better option. With the advent of Netflix and fast Internet that allows real-time streaming, devouring season after season of TV shows over those rare sleepovers is far more appealing an idea than undertaking the tedious exercise of reading the actual novel that inspired it in the first place.
With the whole entertainment industry now shifting towards providing an 'online experience', surveys are now the new tool to assess what actually sells first! A survey by a GoT fan site revealed that those who eventually did buy the book were initially drawn by the show; not the other way around!
As a regular reader now attending university, Jubayer is no stranger to the mindset of the youth. He feels that people of his generation experience an extremely short attention span, which ultimately resulted in the shift away from reading. Yet, he feels that the general notion that the pursuit of reading is going the way of the dodo.
Jubayer Bin Showkat believes that due to the rapid progress of digital media, it is partially true that reading is dying a slow death.
“I actually enjoy reading; it is fun and helps me kill time as well,” he said. He suggested that if one finds reading paper editions monotonous, they can always resort to e-books, or even audio books that have the added advantage of giving people the option of multitasking.
Kindles (e-book readers) have substituted paperbacks and blogs/forums now seem to be more interactive and far more attractive.
Sabrina Rahman, a self-proclaimed 'voracious reader', admitted that although she gets little time off her hectic schedules, she makes it a point to read whenever she takes the tiniest breather.
“Unfortunately, reading books is now perceived a task that requires too much effort!” she sighed.
There is no doubt that lack of leisurely activities in the past eventually led to the culture of reading. Books, magazines etc. were our window to the world, something that we now attempt to peek at through flat-screen monitors.
As social media, games, movies, and TV shows reign over as leisure time activities that fast-paced millennials prefer to engage in, the act of reading is taking a back seat.
Yet, it does not have to be the death of a popular pursuit. Rahman retorted, “I still see many bookworms around me, and I think if the upcoming generation can be positively motivated to experience the art of life through reading books, then this can definitely be revived as a pastime.”
Undoubtedly, technology is replacing tradition. And one simply cannot shun changes completely. But should adaptability serve as a hindrance to thinking and broadening one's perspective, or should it be used to make our lives better and more productive? Let's leave answering that question to the readers, irrespective of which platform they are using!
Photo: LS Archive/Sazzad Ibne Sayed