How To Become Immune To Propaganda

Reader Come Home by Maryanne Wolf focuses on the relationship between reading and technology. It reveals how much the recent changes in technology have impacted the way we read and comprehend words.

Skimming is a much more common form of reading today. The sheer speed of modern life has taken away the enjoyment that comes from reading in between the lines, discerning complex plot lines, and picking up clues left by authors.

Deep reading, a kind of reading that goes beyond entertainment - the kind that empowers people is receding. This loss is making readers more open to sensationalism, deception and manipulation. And this has affected the way authors write as well. Since most people now want to get to the point quicker, writers are writing in small chunks. Longer works with complicated sentences go unread in libraries and online.

Disturbingly, Maryanne Wolf encapsulated the process of reading degradation into three steps:
“First, we simplify. Second, we process the information as rapidly as possible; more precisely, we read more in briefer bursts. Third, we triage. We stealthily begin the insidious trade-off between our need to know with our need to save and gain time. Sometimes we outsource our intelligence to the information outlets that offer the fastest, simplest, most digestible distillations of information we no longer want to think about ourselves.”
To pull ourselves out of this habit, Maryanne Wolf believes we need patience and the practice of rereading. Rereading a book forces the brain to slow down in most situations. It makes us match our reading pace to the pace of the writer since we are no longer reading to absorb information but to understand. Also, when a reader reads a book for the second or third time after many months or years, he or she is no longer the same person. As a result of this change, the reader brings in more understanding, reflectiveness, and patience to his or her task.

Reader Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World by Maryanne Wolf is published by Harper.

Many thanks to Harper for review copy.


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