Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Reading: Who needs it?

Why read Books? Why read any damn thing?

Why in the world, when I can just get all my information from FakeBook, movies, TV and every blog/website that agrees with my worldview? I mean, I don't need anything more, right? So why do I need to actually take the time, sit down, and open those moldy old pages just to read dated work from dead guys who don't know anything about today or how things REALLY work?

*Rolls up sleeves* Allow me to elucidate.

1.) Multiple studies show that people who read are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer's and dementia. Want proof? Do a Google search of "Reading and dementia." Reading is exercise for your brain. Work it, it becomes stronger.

B.) You might actually get smarter. Robert A. Heinlein was America's Father of Science Fiction. He was also an astronomer and mathematician. In nearly every book he wrote, there's something to learn. Example, in Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, we get a cool lesson about the solar system from the inside out plus some nuggets about the relative orbits of the Nine (yes, nine) discovered planets.

Now, The Big One (Wait a minute, we covered Number One above. Okay. Let's just call it The Last Point):

Point of view. The movie can't put you inside the mind of any one of the characters like a book can. You see what the character is doing, but you don't know the motive. You don't see how their brains work. You can't understand why. And understanding can take work. And understanding can open you up to different viewpoints than your own.

I just saw a Kimmel feature where he sent a guy out into the street to ask people at random if they could even name a book. Of course, he cherry-picked the answers to fit his point as well as entertain his audience. I'm sure the number of respondents who could not only name a book, but have actually read one in the last year were more than he wants to make out. At least I hope so.

Social Media wants to highlight how stupid people can be. Look at the memes spreading like wildfire that get shoved up our noses like cayenne pepper juice. They portray each person's enemy of choice as unintelligent, an idiot, a fool. Not just national figures, but everyday kids and young people. Now granted, some folks can be pretty ignorant, like the folks who "love the smell of person X's colon" rather than their cologne. Or the congressman who thinks Guam is going to overturn. Or anyone who says that rape is okay. Hoho, let's laugh at the fool. Grrr, let's be outraged at the idiot. Jerk that knee, let's see you dance.

It takes a cool head to stop and think. It takes focus to see through the bull muffins to the full story, the one that the OP or the press fail to double-check or balance. It's why we get sucked into the propaganda the gets sprayed at us.

Not every reader balances or double-checks. I get it. But I think that being a reader increases one's chance of catching words and phrases that are intended to trap or influence us into thinking a certain way, of signing onto something that is patently false. Does that still leave room for disagreement? Of course. We all have opinions, and we don't all have to agree with each other.

But reading at least makes us more informed. Isn't it worth the extra effort?

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