Opinion: Next time, reach for a book

Posted on Mar 9 2018 - 5:55am by Daniel Payne

The news cycle is depressing. It has been for some time.

Every story, hot take, Facebook rant or Tweet is a reaction, a reaction to a reaction or a reaction to a reaction to a reaction. It can become quite tiring, honestly.

There is little time between an event and the press releases and first stories about it. Few people have time to fully acknowledge what has happened before they are tweeting and sharing away, making sure everyone knows what they think about what others think.

Much of this has to do with the demand for the shortest possible content; the internet has pushed book sales down. For many, the stack of books that once circulated from the bookstore to the nightstand to the shelf has been largely replaced by a single electronic device.

It appears that even the current president does not read as much as those who came before him.

This is not to say that all internet consumption is bad. The internet has made information and ideas more accessible than ever. That does not mean it is all good, either. The desire to understand healthcare in 400 words or less may not actually drive a more informed public. That’s where books come in.

Books are the works that acknowledge the complexity and nuance of every part of life. Instead of a need to simplify every concept and idea down to a few hundred characters, authors of books choose to explore the richness of life, stories and issues that face humanity every day.

More words on a page, by necessity, mean more information for readers. Somehow, though, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, too. Reading the same number of words across multiple articles as are in a book will not have the ability to reveal the same depth, insight and feeling.

While articles have their place (I’m taking the time to write this one, after all), books seem to have lost much of their space in our lives.

This is not just bad for the prospects of an informed society but for the people who make up that society, too. As humans who are craving some greater meaning or narrative, it is deeply disorienting to constantly be bombarded by the news every waking hour.

People need grounding in difficult, tumultuous times like these. What better way to find grounding than in books? Books offer perspectives, narratives and insights that will never be achieved on Facebook or even in a newspaper.

The next time you are ready for bed, consider reaching for a good read instead of your phone. Maybe it will offer some solace and calm in a world, or even a life, that can seem ever-destined for chaos.

Daniel Payne is a sophomore integrated communications major from Collierville, Tennessee.