It’s been a year or more that I picked a book and finished it. I may have started reading several of them in this time, read a few pages or struggled to go up to a hundred and then found something better to do. This newly-acquired inability to read anything longish is irritating at times, because one has to read all those books after all.
I try looking for explanations.
Perhaps, this is happening only to me because I have a thousand things on my mind. A good book gets read by itself; perhaps I have been picking the wrong ones.
But I notice I’m spending more time reading than before — mostly short articles from newspapers or websites, or Facebook statuses, or Tweets or text messages, often on my cell phone.
And that’s where all distractions are. On the cell phone which is invariably connected with the internet these days.
In a sense, most people around us are all the time reading one thing or the other, and not necessarily books which always was a niche activity.
Whether that makes for a less or more reading culture is yet to be affirmed but there clearly is a collective attention deficit problem that we have brought upon ourselves.
Yes, in times like these when the doctors are too keen to label many adult and children as suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), we have voluntarily lent ourselves to the condition — through our desire to stay connected 24/7.
The writers are already responding to this on the insistence of editors and publishers who are desperately pandering to a distracted reader. Thus, in fiction at least, the pace of the content is faster (art imitates life?) while what we have by way of non-fiction is mostly collections of essays that the reader can choose from.
And yet I can’t read a book cover to cover. The itch to log on, to connect with the world I like, is too tempting I guess.