In this visually expressive era, with video inputs fast becoming the norm rather than the exception in everyday life, those who adopt the reading habit clearly have the edge over others.
Youngsters who have read books while growing up and older people who continue to do so are markedly different in their thinking and easy to recognise these days. A rare bird is the avid reader who can speak with equal felicity about Wodehouse and Rowlings. Voracious readers constitute a dying breed that needs to be nurtured and quarantined. Such persons may become extinct in the coming decades!
These days we are continually fed videos of global and local happenings on our smart phones, and people are watching whatever they can, little realising that if they are avoiding the written word, they are blundering immensely. Agreed, the value of visual content cannot be undermined to any extent, so powerfully graphic is its potential. What one views is easy to relate to and appreciate, one way or another. But how many videos can you watch of people playing silly pranks on each other? They may entertain, but they do no more than that.
In the scurried existence of the digital era, Youtube and TV channels as well as social media channels like Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp are streaming videos at us left right and centre. It is only the discerning user who is able to stave off most of such feed and spend quality time living his life. Reading, on the other hand, even on digital platforms, gives us a calmer and steadier series of thought generating inputs.
Language in its written form provides the sort of canvas that the realm of videos cannot quite match. Many people are heard opining that a particular book was much better than its celluloid version. What was missing in the silver screen version was perhaps the romantic or poignant descriptiveness that the author was able to bring out in the printed version. A film maker may wow his audience with his craft, skill and imagery. But he or she has little opportunity to go into absolute detail in a 2 hour film and portray each nuance of the protagonist’s persona to his heart’s content, which an author can well do in a book.
The written word verily has a place in every field of human endeavour. Leaders who read more stand out in the corporate world and in government. They are not only well informed but also have a cogent and well thought out point of view on most subjects. The top honcho of any organisation can easily be found out and exposed if he does not possess in depth understanding of his organisation’s processes, which can only come by reading about them.
The intricacies of an economic crisis cannot be understood by watching a television debate. One has to read about the issues involved in depth, in order to get to the heart of the matter. However, endless rummaging of newspapers alone does not give one the edge in life. The reading of well researched books or blogs written by renowned authorities gives one insight unparalleled.
Digital reading is here to stay, but discerning forays into the ocean of verbiage that exists online are required. One has to know which pages to access and which ones to leave aside. Subscribing to endless numbers of digital channels will not help.
But the sheer charm of sitting in a garden, an old classic in hand- its pages shrivelled with time- just cannot be matched. And then shutting one’s eyes, to ponder over what one has just read, perhaps even snoozing over it! As Edmund Burke said, ‘Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.’
Families that encourage their young ones to fall in love with the written word are doing the right thing by them. Several youngsters are enamoured with creative writing too these days, and that is a great sign. Writing is perhaps an even more fascinating pursuit than reading, but the two are intricately linked.
Benjamim Franklin had this bit of unforgettable advice for us- ‘Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing!’