I agree with Dana Gioia regarding the topic that the decreasing number of readers in our nation has had a negative effect on the American society. However, I believe that the “time” element may have something to do with this problem.
American society is fast-paced and leaves little room for enjoying literature anymore. Present career options limit the time one can spend on relaxing as compared to the lifestyles of people in the past centuries.
The present urbanity also suggests that most young people have shorter attention spans. This tends to make teenagers and young adults become easily impatient on activities such as reading. People demand change in a faster mode. Reading novels and other forms of literature usually entail longer hours to finish.
The generation of today has also become used to getting what they want fast. Rapid development of technology has unconsciously perpetuated the idea that everything should be accessible. This has in turn made people nowadays shun any difficult task that does not yield fast results. Although reading does not really require too much physical effort, fewer people have practiced the patience to decode a writer’s theme.
I agree that electronic media has had a powerful effect on the decline of readership. Movies appeal to most of the senses of a person without much effort as compared to reading which requires a lot of critical and logical thinking. I also find modern liberal media guilty of insinuating that reading literature is only for nerds. Young people are very sensitive to how society judges them and the concept of reading as a past time of people who are considered to be boring can affect the desire of the population to do it.
The decline of reading is truly saddening. The author is right to note that many people have been able to change their lives as a result of the books they have read. The truth is, even newspaper articles can move mountains in our society if many would just understand the implications of the news. The September 11 tragedy, could have been avoided if Americans cared enough to read about what the government is up to when it comes to our foreign policies. Instead, we had to wait for lives to be sacrificed.
I believe that the educational system must understand the current attitudes of the youth if it finds the need to rehabilitate its reading programs.