Put Down the Phone and Pick up a Book

How Dropping Your Tech Could Make You Happier

Lily Bazis, Staff Writer

Shakespeare, Rowling, Lewis, Dickens, Tolkien; These are just a few of the many authors – both past and present – who wrote some of the best and most memorable works of literature and whose words and ideas have completely changed the lives of millions.

However, while these authors and their pieces of literature still draw in readers, the world of technology has slowly taken over the interests of the public and eroded the literary landscape.
If you walk up to a random teenager and ask them what books they’ve read over the past couple of months, they most likely will not be able to answer. Sure, they may say Macbeth or Of Mice and Men, because these are the books they’ve been assigned to read for English class, but statistics show that only a small portion of them will currently be reading or recently read a book at their own leisure. The main reason for this shift in the number of routine readers compared to twenty years ago is the presence of new technologies.

Cell phones and social media take partial responsibility for eliminating the presence of books in people’s lives, because this form of entertainment has captured almost all of the public. People, especially teens, no longer bother to pick up a book when they can simply pass the time by scrolling through Instagram or Twitter.

However, this instant gratification and the ease at which one can attain it, means that teens today are missing out on the immense world of literature. This is due in large part to the fact that they either have given in to the public opinion that reading is lame, or are too busy looking at their phones to care.
According to Pew Research Center, 92% of teens report going online daily — including 24% who say they go online “almost constantly.” This data essentially means that teens are spending all of their most-likely-limited free time on the Internet, when they could be soaking up new information through literature. This statistic may be due to the opinion some people have that reading is work or is boring, and they may associate reading with something they dread, like school or even their career. People tend to choose skimming through social media over reading a long-lasting story because it’s convenient, and they crave the social interaction that the internet can provide. Yet, the year is 2016, and literature has found other means of getting its point across. Things like Kindles and e-readers have quickly made their appearance in society, making it even easier to read your favorite novel, no matter where you are.
Nothing compares to the feeling of adventure you get out of a novel. Getting into the mind of a character, glimpsing his or her inner thoughts and feelings, and experiencing the dilemmas he or she experiences are a few elements that can completely hook a person. You enter a completely different world while reading, and you become completely immersed in the dramatic, romantic, or action-packed story line of the book.

Reading can completely change you as a person as it opens your mind to new ideas and concepts, which is something people don’t necessarily expect out of a book. One of my favorite authors, Cassandra Clare, writes, “One must always be careful of books and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.” I’m pretty sure no one has ever said that about an Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat post.
If this isn’t enough to convince you to pick up a book, then maybe the fact that reading actually improves your brain function will. According to Psychology Today, researchers found that becoming engrossed in a novel enhances connectivity in the brain and improves brain function. It also found that reading fiction improves the reader’s ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes and flex the imagination in a way that is similar to the visualization of a muscle memory in sports.

In recent years, technology has completely taken over the minds of almost everyone, and people are ignoring the beauty of books that are right in front of them. Another alarming statistic from Psychology Today is that 42% of college graduates will never read a book again after graduating from college. They will never again get to experience “being exposed to ideas and being able to experience so many times, places, and events.” This startling statistic illustrates just why people need to turn off their phones and social media and pick up a book. Reading takes you on a journey, and according to Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”