From the blog

Death to the trees

August 20, 2007

During my formative years, I read a lot. From Enid Blyton books to short stories, and longer novels, I always had something made of dead trees in my hand. I had an active imagination, and books appealed to me because they allowed me to create a and inhabit a world of my own, even if it was just for an afternoon. I would form parallel lives for myself, existences in which I would be a cop, a pirate, a skydiver. Books were not just entertainment to me. They were a far bigger part of my life. Then, as I came in to contact with the Internet, I began to look at reading in a different manner. Did I read? Of course. I mean, find me a web junkie who doesn’t read. I read, and I read a lot. A lot of crap, it turns out. One of the biggest drawbacks of having a strong online life is that you constantly have to be up to date on the latest trends, memes, and lulz (epic or otherwise) to stay in the game. You can’t, for example, have someone send you a lolcat, and not know what it is. That is Internet geek suicide. So, we, the geeks, obsessively refresh our feed readers throughout the day, looking for that bit of new information. In the real world, knowledge is power. On the Intarweb, having seen the latest youtube video first is enough to put you ahead of the rest. Anyway, I digress. Today, I cleaned out my room. It was the first real cleanup it had received since I finished my secondary education, and believe me, it showed. After wiping away layer upon layer of dust, I stacked everything in to marginally neat piles, and began to sort through them one by one. What did I discover? I had a lot of books. In fact, well over fifty percent of my room was literature. From Sue Townsend to Romesh Gunasekara, my room was full of books. Now, I would love to say that I had read most of them, and a few years back this would have been the truth. Looking at my stack of books now, however, I say with shame that I’ve read less than a quarter of them. Is this because I’m a slow reader? Far from it. When I get started, it’s hard to stop me. Why, then? Why did I have so many unread books. Did I not like reading? No, I loved reading, and going through every one of them was on my todo list. After Slashdot of course. And there lay my problem. Looking back at my five or so odd years of spending a lot of time online, I realized that I had wasted hours, days, and perhaps even weeks and months, reading some moron’s sarcastic comments about the latest linux distro. I had wasted time listening, and arguing with my fellow netizens about issues that would have never concerned me in the real world. Who cares if vim is better than emacs (which it is, make no mistake about that)? What does it matter if that dude on IRC just doesn’t get the difference between your and you’re? To be honest, who cares? Not me. At least not now. After much thought and internal debate, I’ve come to the conclusion that the series of tubes killed my reading habit, and I’m going to do my best to recultivate it. Starting now, I’m going to read less tech news, and devour more literature. I’m going to read less blogs, and read more of the books that have shaped humanity in general. Now don’t get me wrong, I love geeky cat macros as much as the next net junkie. I’m just going to try and have more epic lulz while reading Bill Bryson. Starting now, I’m going to make a conscious effort to spend less time online, and read more text straight from them good old dead trees. What about you? Think you can close that feed reader and go pick up a dead tree book right now? Try it, I dare you.

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