With Lorraine Lusinje:
As much as we all love the idea of keeping our cultural heritage and national heritage, it doesn’t take rocket science to realise that we are living in a global village. This global village is growing by the day – thanks to simplified communication and travel channels. Communication and travel between different countries and continents within the globe has become part of the world culture and system.
Modern technology, like gadgets and internet applications, have simplified this global symphony in ways one would not have imagined just two decades ago. But there is a downside to the massive influx of technology and the unlimited flow of information it offers. The internet and digital entertainment such as television come with a choking overload of information and content. As much as most of it is regarded as entertainment, we also have to keep in mind that life is not an entertainment circus and there is more to it.
Notably, the internet and digital entertainment are causing a huge reduction in the cultivation of the reading culture, especially among the youth and children. Reading is a very important aspect of human development regardless of other innovations to building the human character and intellect.
If most of us were to ask ourselves when the last time we read a substantial magazine article, newspaper article or book, we would find it’s been a while because most of the time is spent on trivial tweets, Facebook updates and Whats App groups and conversations. Even for avid readers, technology has become a distraction that most are still trying to adjust to by steering away from the pressure of conforming to modern trends.
Whatever the trends are, there is a lot that the current generation is missing out on because the reading culture is dying. For one, studying has become an extensively cumbersome job for students because the mind has become accustomed to the information flow on gadgets that does not require much concentration and focus. Performance of students keeps falling. Gadgets are taking over and books are left on the ground.
There is something I have always noted in avid readers that I find to be impressive and something many people need to adopt, especially when they are still developing their capacities from a young age. Most avid readers speak in an impeccably articulated manner and communicate comprehensively. Their writing is well presented; be it in everyday conversation, work or academic material. This is something that lacks to a notable extent in the general population because of the dilution of the reading culture.
Secondly, reading substantial material gives one an extra dose of information and knowledge that can go a long way in boosting one’s social skills, interpersonal skills, confidence, conversational skills and general behaviour. No one goes through life with everything already figured out but avid readers would admit that a good book always goes a long way in helping an individual to adjust to the different aspects of life and look at the world from different angles and cultures.
Reading is also a good way to relax and have a sense of tranquillity. As much as we feel like we are relaxing as we engage in social media interactions and switch on the digital entertainment gadgets, there is too much ‘traffic’ that easily drains the brain instead of stimulating it. Reading, on the other hand, gives room for focus, reflection and learning.
With social media and the uncensored flow of information, one can find themselves coming from a stressed day at work only to stress themselves more by thumb-sliding through the raw updates of hundreds of people as they engage in gossip, banter, show off, complaints, innuendos, share sad news and so on that the mind has to take in and digest within minutes. Not healthy at all. On the other hand, a good read has direction and this can be refreshing.
And it is also rather pathetic when the average Malawian has no idea of the current affairs of their own country because they do not care to even peruse a newspaper here and there. It is important to follow the affairs and development trends of the world we live in as well as have at least the smallest idea of what else is going on out there. This helps us not to get caught up in our little small worlds that are limited by sheer ignorance.
A good balance is needed between modern trends and the forever important reading culture.
I rest my case.