Learn To Read Well

Man oh man. Writing about reading well seems almost self-indulgent, but let me give it a good old college try anyways.

Internets, I think that the emergence of the world wide web and the whole notion of connected society we’ve come this amazing place where access to information isn’t a problem (if you are of a correct economic status to own a computer, but then again my aunt bought my 3 year old cousin a Mac the other day). And while we’ve learned to cherish that access we haven’t yet learned to filter it out into the good and the bad.

See, much like the public school system, the Internet continues the cherished tradition of failing us by telling people that “everyone’s opinion matters,” and that you’re a “unique special snowflake.” Yet that is not necessarily true and just like Timmy may not have the necessary academy aptitude to become say a doctor instead of a Wendy’s manager, so do some people do not have the inherent ability to write. Yet they insist to.

The internet is a cesspool of a variety of websites and online publications that hire (or most likely make them work for free in exchange for cultural cache) Timmy’s from everywhere who believe they’re great writers because they once composed a tweet that got upwards of 5 likes (Sidenote: never tweet about Justin Bieber if you value your phone battery). This is one of the main reasons we have sites like Thought Catalog or god-forbid Narcity (what up Toronto).

See, the problem is that people armed with a false sense of confidence about both their writing ability and the value of their (often incorrect) opinions attack the internet like the allies did Normandy. They churn out articles that make less sense (and have even less grammatical consistency) than a live reading of a Young Thug album a la Def Poetry Jam.

But the problem is not that they write these articles, the problem is that we read them. We feed into this misconception that leads to the delusional millennial picturing himself the next Hemingway. We click these links, take in the “Top 15 Ways To Tell You’re From The East Side of The West Block Of San Antonio” and perpetuate mediocre writing by telling the all mighty algorithm that we want more of it. But the algorithm can’t make a distinction if we’re reading because we’re bored and we need something to shut of our brain for five seconds or if it’s actually good, and the writers don’t seem to either.

We vote with our reading patterns and our reading patters are the reason Shakespeare is turning so fast in his grave it’s probably creating centrifugal separation. I mean yes, we read on subways, in transit, on elevators, right before sex while your date is “freshening up” (you don’t want to know what they’re actually doing). These are pockets of time we have dedicated to reading. Sometimes it’s not even enough to make a grilled cheese yet it’s enough to digest pointless information.

To truly appreciate great writing, and to actually learn what great writing is (hint: it’s not Complex’ verbal history of their latest beef with whatever washed up rapper is active on twitter or a ham sandwich) you actually need to read great writing. Maybe something like this (love you fam). Good writing takes time. Good writing you want to go back and re-read over and over again. It leaves you thinking. And it gives you time to think (although after this article I really did think about whether population control was a viable theory and in the case of the author I am still undecided).

And while yes, the click-bait, played out list bullshit still has a place in the zeitgeist we need to bring back the time of intellectual reading. The time when we set aside for our minds to be stimulated. When we took the time to process words and to get lost in the process, be it an article or a book. It didn’t matter. Because when we take that time we will be able to not only read better, but we will be able to recognize great writing. We will be able to credit people who deserve it and the pretentious drivel we’re flooded will hopefully get exposed for what it is.

Because sometimes not all writing is good writing. Because sometimes the reason Time Magazine didn’t hire you straight out of University is not some grand conspiracy but that you actually suck at writing. We as readers, as intellectual (I hope) human beings owe it to ourselves to enjoy the fundamental experience of reading. And writers, the truly good writers should have the privilege of our time for all the great work they do and the appreciation that comes with focused reading.

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