Reading Is Not For Everyone

 

Reading Is Not For Everyone

Can reading be bad for you?

Reading is not for everyone. In perusing the incendiary comment sections of web articles, thickheaded user reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, and your average American fundamentalist gloss on the Holy Bible, there emerges a truth so stark, so taboo, that to even think of it sends an electric chill through one’s nervous system. Still, the reality will not be denied. The cold, hard fact of the matter is this: reading’s not for everyone.

To some of you, this will come as a relief: no more need to read newspapers, for one. I mean, on CNN they’ll have someone read the news directly to you, even when there is no news. Forget those feature articles in glossy magazines; a 3,000-word spread is rarely enough room for a celebrity to say something of interest. Don’t bother to tax your brain’s frontal lobe with the contemporary social realist novels — your own life is roughly as interesting, if not more so. Hell, don’t even finish reading this deliberately provocative post! (Just kidding, you must finish reading this post at all costs.) 

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I’m not suggesting we regress several centuries to the dawn of the printing press, when only the wealthy and aristocratic could afford reading material, because do you have any idea how bad people smelled during the Renaissance? Nor can I deny that basic literacy is, in itself, a net positive, if only because it allows you to order with confidence at McDonald’s. All I’m saying is that if the majority of you aren’t even going to try to understand what the Bill of Rights says, maybe you’re better off leaving textual analysis to those who got their doctorates in it. Trust me, they’ll be unhappy either way, so it’s not like you’re doing them a favor.

Hey, remember that book Fahrenheit 451? You probably pretended to read it in high school — speaking of which, with reading less of a priority in our education system, high schools would have a lot more time to teach useful things, like gym. Anyway, it’s about a “fireman” whose job is to burn books, because books are illegal in the particular dystopia he inhabits. He’s eventually drawn into the forbidden world of books, but the whole while, his wife is watching a futuristic version of TV. And you know what? She’s happy!

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What I’m saying is, go ahead and watch TV. And Internet porn. I know you want to. Why embarrass us both by pretending you are going to get through that whole political exposé in The Atlantic without tabbing over to a different site to chat live with a naked person in Russia? You’re not impressing that girl on the subway by cracking open Madame Bovary, either; she’s just wondering why you can’t afford a Kindle. Just play that iPhone game with the gems, or stare at your goddamn shoes. At least you won’t be living a lie.

You’re welcome to continue writing, of course, though in a world with substantially fewer readers, what’s the point? This is the 21st century; you could be paying to see someone get a concussion in a mixed martial arts cage match instead. I hope you will all stop and seriously take stock of how little reading has improved your life — how it has, in fact, made you look like kind of a nerd. But it’s never too late to burn your library card and make a fresh start. One without full stops.

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