I read an op-ed recently that struck a nerve. It was written by Canadian author, Michael Harris, and the title was I Have Forgotten How to Read. Coming in at about 1,629 words and creeping just a hair over the three page mark, it was a lengthy read by today’s standards. It came to me care of a dear friend’s Facebook post. I approach content from that platform with equal parts skepticism and curiosity, but I decided to give it a go nonetheless. I’m glad I did.
Do you have 5 minutes to spare?
The gist of the editorial is that the pervasive media platforms we’ve all become accustomed to using every second of the day have dulled our wits, truncated our attention spans, and predisposed us to migrate towards information that has been reduced to the bare essentials. This leaves little room for nuance, a range of perspectives, or salient contextual elements.
In fact, this has become so common that many articles provide a pre-engagement notification of sorts, or Estimated Reading Times in Marketing parlance, for exactly how much of a commitment will be expected from the reader. Much of this cropped up through a novel concept pioneered by Longreads with the intent of defining exactly what they meant by–you got it–a long read. Unfortunately, this idea has now been applied at the other end of the spectrum. I’m sure you’ve seen the “5-Minute Read” banners that are now ubiquitous in much of the online world.
Going even further, Instagram has become its own blogging platform because no one wanted to click through to a blog, much less read content longer than a paragraph. Tutorials for bloggers and social media influencers continue to espouse the virtues of hooking easily distracted readers. In the age of TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) the mantra goes: use less words, more pictures.
After reaching the article’s conclusion, a vaguely alarming set of notions crept into my brain and set up shop: The same thing is happening to me and I’m pretty sure the same thing is happening to everyone else. Point in fact, Lynn recently lamented about the enormous stack of magazines gathering dust under her bedside table and how long it’s taking her to get through a book.
So, flying in the face of this concept, we’re starting a random category of posts we’re going to call Mad Chatter. Anyone who has read our blog knows the drill. We generally offer activities paired with a meal. But occasionally, we thought we’d share some of the things we’re thinking about or discussing when we’re not out there “doing stuff” in the city or running off to a destination far away. We might share thoughts on something we read, our latest TV obsession, a really great recipe, or all of the above. Nothing is off-limits.
But here’s the thing, we really want to hear your thoughts too. Even if it’s something completely random, drop us a comment or send us an email. Let’s start a conversation.
Is the same thing happening to you? Have your reading habits changed? Have you read a good article or book lately?