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Social Media: Has It Really Been A Bane For Readers?

Social media has its own pros and cons. One of the adverse effect it has had on us was to bring down our book-reading habits!

History tells us that expression in the form of writing has always been central to the human race, from thousands of years ago.

Written language has evolved from pictures of objects, to symbols, to the highly sophisticated languages that we have now, which don’t just convey objects and actions, but ideas and feelings too.

However, writing has acquired a different personality since the onset of the social media age.

When writing was confined to the paper within books, it was about the expression of oneself. One wrote either what they felt strongly about (non-fiction), or where their imagination took them (fiction), or a mix of both. Well, stuff like History, and Economics, and Science were also penned down, but that is something which has not faced the brunt of social media.

In the not so distant past, the turn-over time from an author penning down their thoughts to them reaching the masses was long. It would take however long it would take to write a book, after which it would be published (if a publisher likes the book! There were times when self-publishing was not an option. At least not something which could get your book anywhere).

And then the books would be out for readers to buy, in bookshops. (Oh yeah, no online shopping or e-reading). Apart from some amount of marketing that the books would get, it would be mostly word of mouth that a book is either read or not.

Again, a process which would take its own sweet time.

The path to a book becoming well-read was long, and hence, writing books was not done to become famous. Authors wrote because they could not help themselves. And in the process they acquired fame by virtue of being good!

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Coming to the present

Coming to the present, where one can roll out books almost as soon as you finish writing (and editing) them. And where your book is available for people to read as soon as it is published.

And there is the social media which is ridden with comments and reviews; the path to reaching the mass can be covered with supersonic speed.

This has encouraged a lot more of us to write and get published, than before. People used to write diaries before, now they become memoirs which get published.

More of us writing is definitely not a bad thing for the writers; but from a reader perspective who tries to pick up a book, there might be times when they have to flip through a lot before they can get hold of something that is really worth their time.

Just because there are just so many books flooding the internet, confusing the readers more!

Unfortunately, the world of Facebook and Instagram has got us addicted to instant gratification.

And that, to me, is probably a step back for the world of books.

To write so that you can be appreciated, ironically, might be bad for writing.
The best of writing often comes out of us when we are true to ourselves, and our emotions and thoughts get reflected on paper. And not when we are constantly restricted by the idea of selling the book, or if that book of ours, or that article of ours is going to get viral.

And the cherry on the top is the exponential decrease in attention span of today’s youth, or well, even the not-so-young who spend a lot of time in scrolling posts— just to stop for a 15 to 50 word post or a short 5-minute video.

Do we even care on what we read now

Maybe not?

Because what we read is what our Feed (Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook feed) serves us. The AI behind these sites will decide what post I would like to read, or what book would I like to pick up.

Is creating smart technology by a few smart people detrimental to creative capacities as well as mental abilities of a lot of us?

Maybe.

In the words of Wednesday from the series Wednesday — social media is a soul sucking void of meaningless affirmation.

And with a pinch of wisdom, dollop of awareness, and trickle of self-regulation one might be able to come above it.

Image source: Urupong via Getty Images Pro, free on CanvaPro

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