With every generation, there is always something which the media tries to scaremonger us into thinking is the product of a new technology, new culture or way of thinking. In the past, it’s been the video nasties, which the media proclaimed would turn everyone into crazed copycats, and now it seems to be an ‘ADHD culture’.
With the rise of 140 character tweets, scrolling down newsfeeds for a nugget of even mildly interesting news, and endless videos on YouTube which give us cheap entertainment just a few minutes, can we even concentrate any more? For those who have grown up in this culture, of phones out all the time, can they ever have their attention held for any length of time at all?
Well, I’d like to argue, yes. I am partly a product of this generation – I can remember dial-up and those indestructible Nokias before smartphones and apps, but I have also spent much of my later teenage years with broadband and my iPhone. But I still have a passion for literature. More than that, though, I still seek it out on the internet. I read a great article on The Guardian online by Steve Poole which looked at how that might not be the case at all, and that the internet might actually be ‘cultivating’ our love of ‘deep reading’.
For me, the internet has certainly changed the way I read, but it hasn’t destroyed the fact I do. In fact, the main way in which it’s changed my reading is that I’ve become more picky: if I click on an article and after the first few paragraphs it’s not grabbing me, I press the x, and can type in keywords of something I would like to read. I tend to have a flick through reviews of books if it’s something new or that I might not normally read, to see if it’s worth buying. I still seek out longer articles which make me think, but I’m also not afraid to look for something else if I’m finding it hasn’t made me think at all.
If it is a product of the ADHD culture to stop reading something that I don’t find engaging, then all I can say is, thank God for that. Life is far too short for me to sit at my computer, reading bad journalism or boring pieces, when there’s a treasure trove of articles out there just waiting to be discovered.