I've seen a lot of chatter on the Internet lately about how the Internet is killing "my attention span and now I can't read books!" Something about jumping from Facebook to an RSS reader to a newspaper's website to Twitter and now back to Facebook and the reader and now I'm being IM'd and now someone is texting me and back to Facebook...and so on and so forth...is killing our ability to read books.
Except that this isn't happening to me. Sure, if I'm not into a book it's easy to turn to the computer for some entertainment (What's in my feed right now? Is anyone saying anything worth reading on Twitter or Facebook?), but when I'm into a book, I'm into a book. If a book is gripping, and any kind of book can be gripping (for instance, I couldn't put The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant down, and that was non-fiction; yet Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson was dry and pretty much lame), why would you want to put it down to check Facebook or Twitter? Maybe I'm naive, but I can't imagine the pull of the Internet trumping the book.
Then again, sometimes I think people pick books that aren't gripping. Maybe some people like struggling with their reading, and I think sometimes people feel like they "should" read a certain book (Freedom comes to mind--have already heard from two friends that they had to struggle through it). So perhaps it's hard to resist the lure of the Internet when you're not engrossed in the book you're working through. But then why are you reading it? I guess that's my ultimate question: if you're not enjoying the book you're reading (and if you want to put a book down--if you're actively avoiding reading it by loafing on the Internet--then you're probably not loving it, eh?) then why are you reading it?
Yesterday, a blog I like very much had a thread about which books are so bad they never should have been published, and it just....I can't comment. Because yes, I thought the Da Vinci Code was bad. I didn't enjoy it. I hated the last Twilight book so hard that I believe I screamed at it and threw it across the room. But at the same time, the only book that Sam has managed to finish since we've been together is the Da Vinci Code. That means something to me. It seems to me that a lot of this is about taste. I don't like Faulkner, but I love Hemingway, and something tells me there are many people who feel exactly the opposite. I don't like Dan Brown, but I do like Nora Roberts (and romance novels in general) and I know PLENTY of people who will jump on me for liking romance. But look, I like them. I'm not saying you have to, but I enjoy them. I ENJOY THEM. Me, the person reading them. And frankly, if romance books are the only books you read, that's a-okay by me (shout out to my grandma!). You're reading. Reading is important; I'm not so sure that what you read is important, if you're doing it as a leisure activity. I hate judging people's choice in books. I hate it. Reading is important. Whatever gets you to read is worth it. I can't be moved on this issue.
So back to the distraction thing: I do truly believe that if people read what moved them, what entertained them, what made them happy--they wouldn't be moaning about the Internet and how it's ruined their ability to read. But that's me, and I'm an avid, passionate reader. Maybe there's a whole lot of people who are so neutral about it that no book can tear them away from their computer. But then, I guess that's not the fault of the Internet, is it?