Reminiscent of Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman, I am noting something concerning about people’s reading and technology habits in the last 5 plus years or so; a shift has taken place. More and more people seem to rarely use a desktop or even laptop computer anymore, and the majority of their internet use or “reading” takes place on a smartphone. We used to decry the shift from tangible print to computer screens, but this has gone a step further to smartphone screens.
Ugh. Where to even start with the problems?! Before I delve into that…all hope is not lost, and I see positive signs too. For example, a young relative is attending a university near our home, and I’ve questioned him about tech use in the classroom. I was pleasantly surprised, and reassured, that his professors strongly discourage screens in the classroom (advocating for pen and paper note-taking) and my relative said that print textbooks are preferred over digital, as you just don’t retain info or learn in the same way with digital books.
“You just don’t retain info or learn in the same way with digital books.”
– That is not opinion; it is fact!
In a previous post here on Enough Light (Modern tech and hindered ability to grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ) I link to many studies that demonstrate the problems with reliance on screens, and the benefits of print books and handwriting. (Not to mention that the internet is re-wiring our brains and affecting our attention spans.)
However, that is not my main point for this current post, but rather the background for it. My concern is with the shift to smartphones being the primary way people consume the internet and consume information – because a smartphone is even more limiting and truncating than a desktop or laptop computer screen!
Viewing articles on desktop/laptop computer screens (and the nature of the internet) makes an article over 500 words seem long (uh, a 500 word article is actually VERY brief!). Print out a 500 word article and you will see how little space it takes on a sheet of paper. Print out a 2,000 word article, and you will also see how brief such an article is – yet the computer screen (and internet) makes it seem so very lengthy!
We lose ability to read or ponder “lengthier” material, and so many things in life require more thoughtful time and contemplation – and simply can’t be properly understood when reduced to under 500 words or to memes! The smartphone has made this even worse, taking it down another level of limitation and truncation.
In addition, a smartphone screen is limiting in other ways. For example, due to the size, you see a smaller part of a website, rather than the whole, and this can hinder your ability to properly understand the website. Websites were initially made with a larger computer screen in mind.
Several times now, I’ve had a lot of traffic to one of my Enough Light posts coming from Facebook, and I was able to find where on Facebook the post was shared. When I looked at the comments on facebook, I noted comments asking: who wrote this article or where is this article from? — Viewed on a smartphone, they saw the article in a limited way, that is, it was harder to perceive it is a blog/personal web site.
Since Enough Light is my blog/website, I do not, at the start of an article, state that the author is myself – as that seems unnecessary or redundant! But with smartphone viewing becoming so common, perhaps at the start of every post I need to write something like…”This is a blog or personal website entitled Enough Light where Laura Martin writes articles or essays about Christian or bibical themes” in order to orient the smartphone viewer???
Anyways, while I have many concerns with modern tech, I will continue to utilize it as a medium, but for a couple years now I’ve begun sending out a print newsletter via postal mail. In this newsletter, I choose past content from Enough Light to share.
⇒ If you would like to receive the print newsletter in the mail (free, no strings attached) please let me know. SEE THIS POST: Enough Light print newsletter.
In an increasingly digital and screen age (which does have some benefits), I want to help people see and remember what is important about the printed page.