In an article in The New York Times, Karl Taro Greenfield is quite astonished to discover that more and more people are not reading books, newspapers, or magazines anymore but instead are picking up bits and pieces of information from Facebook, Twitter, or emailed new alerts. Then in order to prove to others that they are keeping up with the latest happenings around the world, they share their opinions on all kinds of things via social media.
Greenfield states: "According to a recent survey by the American Press Institute, nearly 6 in 10 Americans acknowledge they do nothing more than read new headlines — and I know this only because I skimmed a Washington Post headline about the survey. After we've skimmed, we share. Commenters frequently start their posts with TL;DR — short for Too Long; Didn't Read — and then proceed to offer an opinion on the subject anyway."
We are overwhelmed by data every day on the Internet, not to mention what comes in via our email. Greenfield sees our skim & share strategy as being similar to Cliff Notes, those abbreviated versions of books some of us used to write reports on novels we hadn't read. The end result is a diminishment of our spiritual literacy, our ability to read the book of the world for spiritual meaning. Greenfield calls it "Faking Cultural Literacy."
As big readers ourselves, who spend hours each day with books and articles, we can't resist also stating our disapproval of including reading-time estimates at the top of articles on the Internet. This "minutes to read" feature results in the dumbing down of data; it's based on the assumption that people will invariably favor short pieces over long ones. If we then factor in the large pictures now used in most posts, we are left with very little content to ponder or soulfully take to heart. Meaning is under siege in our present-day culture.
Next Post: The Next Revolution in Digital Technology: Part 2