“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
The findings of an Ipsos MORI public opinion poll on Literature in Britain Today were released this month. Needless to say the results raised many questions about the place of literature in the technological age.
The shift was most notable in 2016 when the Nobel Committee made the decision to award the Literature Prize to Bob Dylan- a distinguished songwriter and talented lyricist but in many people’s eyes, not a writer of literature.
It seems that now is a pressing time to discuss the importance of literature and the enriching quality it has in people’s minds as a form of escapism and stress relief.
The survey commissioned by the Royal Society of Literature found that one in five people in the UK cannot name a single author. The study which involved approximately 2000 people found that one quarter of respondents said they had not read any literature in the past six months.
So here at The Circular we decided to survey a group of millenials (42 in total) to find out are these figures reflective of the Irish population too.
Our survey found that 31% of people have not read any books in the past 6 months. The majority of those that do read literature would not consider it a usual part of their routine with 60% of respondents admitting to picking up a book less than once a month.
Interestingly, yet not surprisingly when asked what stopped people from reading more, 51% cited the distraction of the internet.
The personal gratification provided by the constant feedback of social media seems to much more satisfying than the delayed reward that comes with reading a novel. The iPhone was only introduced a decade ago but to many millennials and teenagers it seems like there was no life before one where our smartphones made us feel like we were everywhere at once. There are numerous studies that show social media use affects our mood in a negative way yet so many teens today are hooked to the IV drip that is Instagram ‘likes’.
Digital culture has become an integral part of our existence in such a short space of time that reading.To enter the story, to really escape, you have to unplug. And that’s just not an option for so many people today.
It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.
Children who read for pleasure have increased concentration, memory, confidence, greater self-esteem and general knowledge. Reading builds empathy, improves imagination and language development. These are important and relevant benefits, whether we live in a digital or analogue world.