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Surface Reading And The Decline In Understanding

1282 words - 5 pages

There are various types of methods that a person can implement when reading any work of literature. The methods range from scanning and skimming, which only examine the surface of the work, leaving out details, to analytical close reading that unearth the meaning of the miniscule details that are usually missed. With our society becoming more and more fast paced, it is being driven to rely solely on scanning and skimming (surface reading). This movement is furthermore compounded by the advances in technology—television, Kendal, internet, etc.—,which are able to supply the audience with almost an exact replica of the information that books provide in half the amount of time or less. These inventions are enabling us to thrive in our fast pasted modern world, but it is coming at the cost of true understanding that stems from closely reading books.
The type of reading that is on the decline, is that which requires thought, the assimilation and accommodation of ideas, and effort—close reading. This form of reading involves the careful, sustained interpretation of literary text that comes from observing a pieces minute detail. In accordance with the definition of reading provided by the Princeton dictionary, “the cognitive process of understanding a written linguistic message”, the methods used other than closed reading are not truly reading. Many have argued that the creation of new technology has actually enabled more people to read, but when compared with reading’s definition, this is not true. Reading in not mindlessly skimming articles and not knowing what they mean afterwards, but being able to comprehend the material that one has read, including its many facets.
From examining my journals, I was able to see that it was hard for me to use depth reading when reading books or articles on electronic devices. As I read many of the articles that were on the internet, I faced a multitude of problems. The most daunting was my desire to multitask; I had the strong urge to check my Facebook page, email, I’M, and even read other articles that I found interesting. By the time I had finished reading the assigned article an hour or so would have gone by and I would have no clue as to what I just read resulting in having to re-read it—these instances also occur when I am reading for pleasure. The use of technology does not mean that more people are reading, although technology makes literature more accessible to everyone, but that more people are simply scanning the screen of text with little comprehension as a result of being distracted. In Carr Kirschenbaum’s article, distinguished figures talked about how even when they read on electronic devises it was a tedious task to stay on track and not answer the call of the internet; this shows that this is not just a problem for the common man but everyone.
The components involved in close reading are broken down into three parts in Fahrenheit 451 by Faber. He...

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