Is technology robbing the modern generation of the pleasure of reading books?

Read whatever you want, whatever you feel like reading, wherever you feel like reading, but read. Read for God’s sake as it will make you a better person. It will teach you how to handle different situations. And it will provide you advice on your own problems.

“Technologies certainly do create cultural phenomenon, whether for good or for ill”, says Windsor Holden, senior analyst at Analysys.

Born in the lap of technology, accompanied by the latest smartphones, tablets, computing gadgets and digital lifestyle right from their infancy, and having grown up in an era of social media, our modern generation can more appropriately be called a ‘wired-generation’: the generation that stays wired (connected) all the time.

I once read these lines in an article:

“Today's teenagers use technology to stay in touch with friends at all times - turning their bedrooms into 'connected cocoons'.”

Hence, with an ever-advancing pace of technology, our generation is becoming more and more tech-savvy. Top this up with a bunch of youngest Microsoft Certified Professionals featuring Arfa Karim Randhawa, 9, and Ayan Qureshi, 6 in the spotlight. The technology is advancing and the whole world is busy in attaining the best technology. And now in this computerized era our new generation (also called Generation Z) has no extra time, because they just invest their time in activities like playing video games, keeping busy in their social networking, texting on cell phones, watching movies, and downloading different kinds of apps for their smartphones.

The tragedy, though, is that while we are so busy competing thoroughly with the whole world in the race of technology, we are left far behind in one field of knowledge: the field of ‘literature’. And regrettably, if not more than half, then at least half of our generation is not interested in reading books. Because they think they can learn everything on the internet and through social media.

But, if I may say so, how about giving social media a break and spend some of our time on reading books? Because most of us don’t know what a heavenly magic words can subject us to. The power of words can change us, the way we think, the way we perceive things and can broaden the horizon of our knowledge. Give it a try by reading a single book and then you’ll see how different you feel. I, myself, wasn’t aware of this magic (as when a teenager I was much flooded with finishing my course books and preparation) before I read one and then the desire to read more filled me and started to increase with time and I realized that I needed to read just like humans need to eat and drink in order to survive.

I don’t know whether every reader feels the same way or not but when I read books, I experience a feeling that I never ever experience even while watching a movie because when you watch a movie you just watch, you don’t have anyone to narrate it that story to you, you don’t have someone who is directly talking to you and whose center of attention is only you. But in the case of books, the art of narration just takes you to another world – a world which is more interesting, beautiful and magical than the one we live in. The power of words will open a magical portal in front of you that will take you to another world, a world where you can wander and live another life in the life you are already living in. And how mind-boggling is it that you can wander through different places while staying seated at a single place.

A book not only takes you to an entirely different world, it takes all the tensions and worries away until you finish it. Because all the way, if it’s a good book you won’t be able to get it off your mind. You’ll be curious about the climax and ultimately about the end. You can make them your friends because, quite literally, they talk, give you many advises, teach you things and sometimes even lighten your burden and tensions. Only if you would understand, as Charles William Elliot said:

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors and the most patient of teachers”.

After making books your companions you will not be the same anymore. You will notice a change in yourself, a change for the better. And every word you read will be a ladder towards a constant increment in your intellect, making it more concise and diverse.

One of my teachers at university always urges his students to read, he always encourages them, requests them to read because he believes that books can change you. They give you knowledge, knowledge increases your intellect and gradually you become a complete human being. Now I understand he has been right, because, yes, words have the power to change you and even the world around you. But our generation is not interested in reading books, increasing their knowledge and being good human beings, which is why in our country libraries remain empty, or at least not full. I can’t deny the fact that we still have some better youngsters who still love to read. And I’m glad they exist on earth!

The famous novelist John Green, in his novel, ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ wrote some beautiful lines about reading: “Sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book”.

Undoubtedly, these lines are written to be felt, for the ones who are deep enough to understand them.

By writing about all these things, I just want to persuade and urge our youngsters to please invest some of their time in reading. Read whatever you want, whatever you feel like reading, wherever you feel like reading, but read. Read for God’s sake as it will make you a better person. It will teach you how to handle different situations. It will give you consultation about your own problems. You can talk to books, stroll in them, or relate to them. In fact, I’m sure there must be a book somewhere that would match your life story completely, or at least some events of your life. And, in this way, you will learn to live a better life.

We are much impressed by the western world but we never ponder over how they achieved their success. Not because they had been ‘social media experts’ right from infancy, or had other worldly powers. They are just like us, they are humans too but the only difference between us Pakistanis and them is that they prefer literature, they prefer getting maximum knowledge and they prefer to read, to write. They prefer to develop their personalities and thinking all the time, and sharing it with others. They prefer to engage in social and cultural and any type of debates instead of just wandering around. And, most importantly, they know how to disagree with each other without getting into any fights.

So, all of you who are reading this, I request you to grab any good book and give it a go-through and notice what you get from it. When you are alone, read, when you don’t have friends or anybody to consult, read. Any good book or a novel will do – and it will prove to be an expert consultant!

Even If you don’t like reading printed books try eBooks, since the modern generation likes everything tech savvy. I have always found a sincere friend in every book I read and I am sure you too will find at least one true companion. And if you don’t find a friend or companion, you will be helped by that book in some other way. Just read, just give it a try and your world will change for better. And you will feel it.

The writer is a Media Graduate and a Broadcast Journalist by profession. She has a keen interest in reading, storytelling, writing and possesses a critical view of the various dilemmas of Pakistani society, especially those concerned with the oppression of women. Follow her on Twitter.

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