The other day I was at the beach with the fam and an old girl walked by our sprawl. She saw my mate & I lying in the sand, both of us with a thick hardcover. “Good for you. I like to see people reading actual books. No one reads books anymore,” she spoke with a thumbs-up gesture. I made one back.
It was only by chance I had a hardback. I do not bring electronics to sandy beaches. Most of my reading I do online via laptop, or on my Kindle e-reader. Or an iPad. Or an iPhone.
Odd how in the past, artists and photographers fetishized the woman in repose, reading. The image suggested rest, or a lovely respite from the world. Nowadays it’s become a social faux pas, though, to be seen reading in public, especially on a smartphone, a ubiquitous instrument of alienation.
Anything that gets people reading is fine by me. I take my words in any format possible, including audio. In its extreme, when people shame us for screen staring, they are threatened by information gathering on a certain level, which is an anti-knowledge stance. What people are really mad about is attention being diverted from the present moment, which may or may not mean it’s isolating the hater from the gadget user.
Yes, it’s annoying when your mate checks his text ding right in the middle of a sentence. Yes, the urge to check email every five minutes is a chronic disease for even the non-clinical OCD person. But sometimes people are merely looking things up to supplement a discussion point. Does snapping a pic take you out of the moment, or further solidify it by documenting it? The argument can be made that people are reading more and being more creative than ever before thanks to these gadgets.
Once humans can easily get computer implants to gather info from our own “throbbing brains” and the use of such devices is biologically seamless, it will present a new level of discomfort for luddites, so that people who are out there, reading, can be left alone again.