In the age of smart phones, where everything is, perhaps, too accessible, it is almost impossible to have a truly personal, private experience. No matter what I do, every single one of my Instagram and Twitter followers, every single one of my Facebook or Snapchat friends are somehow involved, always a simple click away from total connectedness.
Reading used to be a vacation from reality; an immersion into an alternate universe of your choosing where you can remain unreachable and untouchable. But now, with all kinds of texts available online, it has become “easier” to simply read on the computer.
Though the internet offers reading material instantaneously, its availability extends far beyond literature. Unlike when you’re holding a tangible book in your hands, a computer is not only a platform for reading, but also for communicating, playing games, and other, mindless activities that all possess the immeasurable power of distraction. While internet accessibility is an obvious benefit, it also requires the individual’s willpower not to utilize every single available aspect of the world wide web. Many people do not possess said willpower, and so digital reading becomes a halfhearted engagement. There is no complete immersion or escape; there is one foot in the literary realm and one foot in the digital, and an existence that spans both spheres cannot fully give itself to either.
However, despite my condemnation of online reading, I must point out the limitations surrounding print. In order to read a physical piece of literature, one must first have access to it, as well as time to fully enjoy it. The reason that the digital world has become so relevant is because time is a commodity, and the internet allows for us to perform multiple activities within a singular span of time. Reading books is a luxury.
While reading print is a more enjoyable, genuine, and traditional experience, the digital world’s appeal is in its accessible and efficient use of time and resources. The Internet is readily available to the “every man”; books are available to the traditionalist.