The divide between print and digital culture
“Books are the Spark” – Victor Hugo
Reading is described as the process of looking at written symbols, letters and grasping their meaning. It follows closely behind speaking and listening in the journey of comprehension. In its deepest context, reading goes beyond that, it is a gateway to an exciting world, allowing us to apprehend, discover, interpret, learn, communicate and explore it’s truly infinite possibilities. Decoding language and text is to open a world of information and understanding. Reading goes beyond a visual skill, it engages the mind, enters the memory and triggers data and fashions belief systems. It can mold, engross, absorb and teach all the same time. Reading is a skill instilled in us at a very early age and yet many of us give it up as we grow older. Does this constitute a casualty of the modern age or is there more than meets the eye?
Dr. Seuss, in his inimitable style wrote, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go”. With International Literacy Day coming up (Sept 8th) speaking about this topic to the global community is timelier than ever. Reading affords accessibility, exercises our minds, and allows us to step forward through undiscovered doors without fear. It can spark our inspiration and be the best version of ourselves. Yet we see a decline in reading as television and electronic gadgets have become trendier, cooler and the go to option across generations. Here is making my case as to why reading needs to make a comeback.
Lack of time is the most commonly reason cited for not reading. Yet, as we finish our work, wind up our chores, grab a bite and settle down at the end of the day – most of us automatically reach for the TV remote rather a book. Others prefer to scroll though Instagram and Facebook rather than spend 15 productive minutes reading. TV appeals on a visual, emotive sense, while reading influences run deeper. Yet, reading seems like too much work, even though it stimulates our creativity and it is a useful skill to have in life and in business.
Reading can literally and figuratively change our mind, since it has the ability to rewire our brain. Known in scientific circles as "neuroplasticity", there exists the prospective to literally build brain power. Books are primary among them having the latency to change the circuitry in our brain and thereby the lens through which we view our circumstances. Michael Merzenich who is considered the “father of plasticity” because of his lengthy and illustrious career in the field established that human brain is highly plastic with vast potential for improvements. Adding another layer of understanding to this complex theory is the work of Marian Diamond who is considered the “mother of plasticity” since her work preceded Michael Merzenich. She illuminated and introduced a paradigm shift for the scientific community proving that the brain shrinks with impoverishment and grows with enrichment at any age. Reading can be a priceless tool to add knowledge, fresh perspectives and by this means enrich our minds.
Embracing the old fashioned
Much research has been devoted to the divide between print and digital culture. It is strongly iterated that print culture with its more demanding attention leads to deeper assimilation, inference, critical analysis and empathy – all of which is central to learning. Reading develops focus and concentration, improves memory and reduces stress. As you read more, the writing skills improve with enhancements in vocabulary and expression.
Reading regularly literally means exercising the brain muscles and improving them, which results in greater retention of information. In turn this enhances our analytical skills boosting our confidence, all the while sharpening our focus and concentration. All because we picked up a book and read a few pages regularly. Delving through the pages in a quiet corner, reinforces tranquility, centering our core and stilling our wayward mind towards the path of knowledge and light.
I continue to love this childhood habit of reading, it aids me in my writing skills and keeps my mind alert, creative and grounded. I look forward to hearing from my readers, does the printed word beckon you too? Our shared experiences enrich our lives, let the dialogue begin.
We are stronger together