ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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To Read or Not to Read

It is easy to blame the internet for the death of the printed word but reading – deep or shallow – is less a function of the medium and more of the aptitude of a person.

“The only thing these kids do is watch TV and play cricket. The word ‘study’ doesn’t even exist in their dictionary. Goodness knows how they’re going to pass their exams!” – an exasperated piece of dialogue children of my age used to hear with nagging monotony during our school years. Now, in that handed-down diatribe, TV has been replaced by the internet, and cricket by video games, as the main culprits for students’ bad grades. Numerous studies churned out over the recent past, mainly by western scholars, have buttressed this widespread parental opinion.

According to neuroscience research, the myriad distractions on the web have altered the circuitry in our brain, thanks to its “neuroplasticity”. This has affected the way we read and how we comprehend what we read. Netizens have apparently lost the art of reading. They do not have the patience to read things in detail. They prefer skimming and scanning. Tweets and Facebook posts comprise their main – and often, only – reading diet. Deep reading is a practice on the verge of extinction. Or so these “pop science” studies seem to suggest.

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