There is nothing more that I hate in this world than when someone says the horrid phrase, “I hate reading and I never do it.” When I hear it, I feel like I just got drop kicked in the ovaries. I start sweating like a catholic school girl in a sex ed class. It’s as if the moron in question out of nowhere just went, “HADOUKEN!” killing me in one swift, fatal blow.
It’s like a god damn race to the bottom with some people.
So I was pretty surprised when I found a Pew Research study that showed that 72% of adults claimed they read a book within the past year (with millennials reading at 80% and college students at 90%). The results included many factors such as those people that only read a few chapters of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone just to pass the time until Game of Thrones was back on TV. I concluded that this study isn’t really indicative of Americans’ reading habits and the consequences of illiteracy.
With a bit more research I found some pretty grim facts . For starters, 1 in 4 kids will never be introduced to the beauty of reading. This has a profound effect on their adult lives because children who can’t read end up being 4 times as likely to drop out of school, and there appears to be a correlation with illiteracy and things like crime, poverty and teen pregnancy.
So what does it say about those that can’t read, or worse, those that can but avoid it like the plague? Well, they probably get their information from watching TV . The average American will spend a total of 9 years watching TV in their lifetime! This becomes especially dangerous for children who on average spend 900 hours a year in school, but also spend an astounding 1200 hours per year watching TV. Don’t get me wrong, I love Breaking Bad and House of Cards like it’s nobody’s business, and the moment a girl asks me, “It’s Always Sunny and chill?” will be the day I find my future wife. But the idea that a kid is spending more time learning life lessons from Jesse Pinkman, Frank Underwood and Frank Reynolds, as opposed to an educated school teacher, is pretty horrifying.
While things like watching TV can be entertaining and even informative, there is a certain element to it that sends our mind into zombie autopilot. And to make it worse, we are bombarded with commercials and ads which, in the words of the great Tyler Durden, “has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.” (Kudos to you readers that recognize the reference) Reading, on the other hand, is known to stimulate the imagination and force readers to think critically. And did I mention that it has been shown to make you smarter ? Considering all of this, someone should really ask Trump if he reads… ever.
Even Holden Caulfield, one of the most complex and overanalyzed protagonist in English literature, was an avid reader, and it can be argued that he was possibly autistic. But I bring up Holden to produce a counter argument – reading has been dangerous. Back in 1980 Mark David Chapman murdered John Lennon of the Beatles. He was found reading The Catcher in the Rye at the scene and claimed the famed novel was a factor that drove him to such an insipid and vile crime against humanity. We see examples of this everyday with biblical texts driving people to believe wacky nonsense, and worse, commit acts of violence against others. And we can’t forget when print media blatantly lie – such was the case when Sabrina Erdely wrote her infamous Rolling Stone piece “ A Rape On Campus ” which turned out to be a horribly fabricated hoax, and single-handedly set women and the relevant conversation about sexual assault two steps backwards.
But anyone that takes a Sociology course can appreciate the importance of theinvention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg circa 1440. It gave rise to the spreading of ideas on a massive scale, much like the internet did when it first came around. Information was given a platform that had the possibility to reach everyone and it literally changed the course of humanity.
So If you are reading this, or anything for that matter, then you are awesome (high five!). The simple fact that you are all willing and able to is a beautiful thing and speaks volumes about who you are and what you are all about. You are one step ahead of the game and you should take pride in that. Sure, I’m no Hemingway or Carl Sagan, but I do recognize the importance of writing content that is engaging, informative and above all will make you think.
I love reading so much that I named my Boston Terrier, a dog breed also known as “the American gentleman”, Gatsby. As much as I thought that after 3 film adaptations and Fitzgerald’s famed novel being canonized and taught in schools for decades now, that ‘Gatsby’ should be a household name. Boy was I wrong. I can’t tell you how many times people can’t pronounce his name and/or ask, “What’s a Gatsby??”
Bite me ‘Murica. Screw you and the illiterate horse you rode in on.