Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

We aren’t reading for fun anymore

Most of us enjoy reading but, due to the ease of social media, haven’t done it in years
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

“I used to read all the time when I was younger, but I haven’t read a book in years.”

A lot of us used to read, but now many struggle to read for more than a couple of minutes. It seems like everyone our age can’t read for pleasure anymore. Everyone can remember devouring books in middle school, but somehow that magic has escaped us. Why is that?

A common excuse I hear — and often use myself — is simply not having the time anymore. When I was younger, I had hours of time to sit in the library and read. Now, with homework, clubs and other responsibilities, reading feels like a waste of time.

Yet my insistence of my lack of time has a glaring flaw: as my embarrassing screen time statistics will indicate, I have plenty of time to scroll on my phone. Why not use that time to read?

The most obvious culprit is social media. The attention spans of young people like me are shrinking as we become reliant on apps and websites like X, formerly Twitter, and TikTok to fill our free time. The business model of these companies is to keep us entertained and scrolling for as long as possible, so they employ myriad psychological tactics to stop us from logging off.

Personally, I instinctively reach for my phone over a book these days. The reason for this is that social media is easy; reading requires attention, and when I’m tired after a long day, the lure of the easy, guaranteed entertainment of social media always wins me over.

Even when I’m not tired, I still refrain from reading when I have the chance despite the enjoyable memories of my past reading habits. This is perhaps because I don’t get anything tangible after I read a book; my homework pile remains the same, and I’ll usually think about the ways I could have more effectively spent my time.

Even when I’m reading, it can’t just be for fun. I find that I am forcing myself to read books that I don’t have an interest in, as opposed to books I want to read. Reading may not produce a tangible product; however, maybe we are collectively too obsessed with tangible products.

In our culture a hobby can’t just be a hobby, it must be monetized into a “side hustle.” We constantly praise people who wake up at five in the morning and schedule out their day to the exact minute until they have no free time.

Reading may feel like a waste of time and low on our hierarchy of activities, but it is unsurprisingly good for us. It sounds trite to say that reading makes us smarter, but reading can actually help change our perspective. Research has shown that reading fiction works can change aspects of our personality and help us become more emotionally intelligent.

The other day, struggling to get through assigned reading, I considered skipping it and faking my way through the discussion the next day. I got so much more out of the class, however, after having done the reading and I came away with many thoughts and a greater understanding of the lesson.

We don’t get gold stars on our reading log anymore. Reading isn’t going to help us get our list of tasks whittled down. It’s not as easy as just scrolling on our phones. Yet it’s still important, and we — including myself — should try to put more value on reading.

Grace Jungmann can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *