Frivolity in Modern Times

By Owen Stewart

Modern life is full of amazing technological advances. Hybrid cars, e-mail and fast food have all had a hand in furthering humankind. Along these lines, reading has been integral in lifting us to our current standing in history, but is losing it’s strangle hold on society. Losing its place, reading is being shut out by superior art forms that are easier to understand, are more popular and more comprehensive.

Primary in the eminent destruction of reading is the rise to glory of television and cinematic entertainment and education. In both entertainment and educational needs a screen (primarily television and cinema) has far surpassed anything that reading can come up with. By comparison reading is an outmoded medium.

Screens are better educationally. Where before you had a single stimulus, sight, you now have sight and sound teaching you how to do or learn something. Instead of reading and discovering how to do something yourself, you are shown the right way from the get go. This means that you never have to experience making a mistake. Instead of confusing directions on how to build your new coffee table you could pop a cd into your computer and bam, step by step instructions acted out for your convenience.

As entertainment, reading has always had to compete with acting. In our current culture this means that reading is again pitted against television and movies and to a lesser extent the theatre. In entertainment what was once readings greatest strength has now become its greatest weakness. The creation of a mental image or picture of what you are reading far outcompeted anything that contemporary theatre could produce, but with the high quality special effects found in the cinema, literature has suffered. Society’s imagination cannot compete with modern Hollywood, and as good as books are, the feature film will always be better. Reading is losing its place in modern society. A society where people don’t want to have to come up with their own mental picture, but want to be spoon fed the directors view of the book. What was once readings greatest strength, an individual’s imagination, has now become its greatest weakness. Who would want their own version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, when they could have Andrew Adamson’s version. Of course everyone would want Andrew Adamson’s version, with all its computer generated graphics and no need for creation on the readers part.

Reading’s meteoric rise to prominence is only paralleled by its rapid fall. Where once society had revelled in their authors and poets, directors and producers now dominate the headlines. With people not wanting to imagine their own creative mind-scapes they have turned to the majesty of modern movies. While reading still has vague pillars of support in societies creative “elites” it cannot compete against the superiority of modern “screen” entertainment. Be prepared to stop dog-earing and begin pausing you entertainment and education.


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