The importance of reading

By Sophie Rieckmann

Inspired by overhearing (they were talking loudly) Sunday pub lunch talk during over the Christmas holidays, I think that quite a considerable number of people, especially the cynics of our societies, would be very quick to claim that ‘reading’ has become a thing of the past and that the young of today are too busy watching The Simpsons (for the record, I love the Simpsons) or that we have our noses in our phones, instead of good old books. Well, with the dawn of technology and portable screens, have we really compromised our reading time?
There is an obvious argument to combating this statement. This being that Medium itself is a corporation dedicated to providing a platform for people to express themselves through writing. All of us on this site, whether active bloggers or just readers are, well, reading. And a lot of the posts on this site are really rather good. Ok, not many people read physical newspapers every day, but many a commuter can be seen on their phone, laptop or tablet, ofter reading a newspaper or journal, such as the Economist, on the way to work.
Frederick Douglas famously said that ‘Once you learn to read, you will be forever free’. Life today demands a sufficient level of literacy, otherwise you can immediately discount yourself from the job sector. We are in an age in which an increasing amount of people have university-level qualifications, and the majority of youngsters have reached at least age 16 at school level. Arguably, if literacy rates should be higher than ever before, then everyone should read more. And I think they do.
I believe that what causes people to claim that reading is a thing of the past is that we have switched mediums. We have, largely as a society, moved from books and newspapers, to kindles, tablets and online publications. Why? Not because we do not like to read any longer, but because technology has given us the opportunity to read more. I am an advocate of the traditional book, but I cannot argue against the fact that being able to take a kindle on holiday is far more practical than trying to assemble a mini library, which will- if you are a book nerd like I am- always hold a higher level of importance than clothes or toiletries combined! With the dawn of virtual books, blogs, newspapers, magazines etc, reading has become MORE accessible than ever before.
Yes, film, TV, games and the rest have adopted a larger proportion of our time than before, but reading is far from dead. Yes, schools still require it, as does any other educational institution on Planet Earth. But, I still firmly believe that if reading was banned, there would be international uproar- it would be sorely missed. Reading constitutes so much of our lives and is something which the human race prides itself on being capable of. Reading, writing, are both vital forms of self-expression, communication, release and escapism. It s irreplacible, and I think that cynics should perhaps think twice about stating that ‘reading is dead’, since I’m sure that I could find a good 50 advocates of reading in a matter or minutes (especially since my friends are all avid readers too 😊).
What do you think? Is reading on the decline, or has it lost an importance it once had?

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