You’re Not Going to Read This
Justin Cox 🍩

Reading vs Consuming

When you write a response in Medium it gets presented as your own story, which means “my” reader needs context or “my” story doesn’t make sense. So, to “my” reader, stop now and go read Justin Cox 🍩 ‘s piece referenced above.

Justin poses the argument that you can now “read” content via Audible and even here on Medium. But the act of “reading” in that way isn’t in fact reading because you aren’t really comprehending. In order to fully comprehend you need to read the written word.

I would propose an alternate conclusion: we don’t comprehend anything, no matter how it was presented! There was a study done, during the MTV years, that evaluated comprehension using an old (really old) birthday game. Place a dozen items on a serving tray, covered by a towel. Give the kids :30 seconds to look at all the items. Then give them paper and a pencil to write them all down. MTV ushered in the multi-tasking, many things at one time consumption era. You could recall more, act upon multiple things and train your short-term (aka circus) memory to do great things. It’s more a show because it only sits in the short-term slot and isn’t maintained, stored and categorized.

I agree with you Justin, we don’t comprehend the audible or media input because we’ve trained ourselves for multi-tasking. Like you mentioned with the test — we know the answer for the next 12–24 hours. Past that it’s the 14 year old common response, “…huh?”

Our world is starting to realize there is a difference between ‘listening’ and ‘comprehending’. I’ve caught myself reading an entire page only to realize I was really thinking about something that happened that day. We need to re-teach ourselves how to Focus. If you’re in a meeting, you should Focus: listen to the stakeholders, form your opinion, determine next steps. If you’re reading a book you should Focus: enjoy the story, escape the world. If you’re watching television you should Focus: put down the iPhone, iPad or laptop and watch what you’ve turned on.

But there is the tricky part — it used to be (and I’m dating myself) you had 3 channels, plus PBS and maybe two UHF channels that sometimes came in. There was NO television after midnight, or maybe 1am on Saturdays. The only programming there had to be good or people did something else. Now the programming is rarely good — so they do something else, with their iPhone, iPad, laptop…. We use these things as background and we don’t know how to turn them into foreground. We’ve lost the ability to focus.

This is only my opinion but I think an audio-book can be a good way of consuming, and even comprehending, if you Focus. You’re consuming WHILE you complete your primary purpose (walk dog, drive car, etc.) I think if you sat down with “a book” and treated it the same way you did a written copy you might find something you not only enjoy but comprehend!

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