"Correcting the Mind: The Impact of Screens on Deep Reading"


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 18, 2023

4 min read


"Correcting the Mind: The Impact of Screens on Deep Reading"

In today's fast-paced and technology-driven world, our minds are constantly bombarded with distractions. From social media notifications to never-ending email threads, it's becoming increasingly difficult to find the time and space for deep reading. Lao Tzu once said, "If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place." This rings true when it comes to our ability to engage in deep reading and truly understand the complex world we live in.

Recent studies have shown a concerning decline in the proportion of Americans who read books for pleasure. Between 2004 and 2017, the number of men reading for pleasure decreased by 40 percent, while for women, it was down by 29 percent. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a renowned psychologist, has discovered through his research that reading a book is one of the simplest and most common forms of flow that people experience in their lives. However, this form of flow is being choked off by our culture of constant distraction.

One of the main culprits behind the decline of deep reading is the prevalence of screens in our lives. We are more likely to scan and skim when we read on screens, extracting only the information we need. This habit then starts to color or influence how we read on paper. The more we rely on screens for information consumption, the less likely we are to engage in the deeper reading experience that books offer.

Research conducted by Anne, a cognitive scientist, supports this notion. She conducted a study where participants were split into two groups: one given information in a printed book and the other given the same information on a screen. After reading, both groups were asked questions about what they absorbed. The results showed that people understood and remembered less when they read on screens. This creates a vicious cycle – as we move away from books and towards screens, our capacity for deep reading diminishes, making us less likely to read books altogether.

Every time a new medium emerges, we put on a new pair of goggles that shape the way we see the world. McLuhan famously said that every new medium carries a buried message within it. However, the implicit messages in mediums like social media and television are flawed. The world is complex, and to navigate it honestly, we need to focus on one thing for a significant amount of time. The shallow nature of social media platforms, with their character limits and constant stream of information, does not allow for the depth of understanding that is necessary.

So, how can we correct our minds and reclaim our capacity for deep reading? Here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Set aside dedicated time for deep reading: Life is complex, and if we want to truly understand it, we need to allocate time specifically for deep reading. This means disconnecting from screens and immersing ourselves in a book, giving our minds the opportunity to engage with complex ideas.
  • 2. Embrace the value of focused attention: In a world filled with distractions, there is immense value in leaving behind our other concerns and narrowing our attention to one thing at a time. By focusing on each sentence, page after page, we allow ourselves to dive deeper into the material and fully grasp its meaning.
  • 3. Foster empathy and understanding: Deep reading not only helps us understand the world around us but also allows us to gain insights into how other people live and think. By immersing ourselves in literature that explores different perspectives, we can cultivate empathy and broaden our understanding of humanity.

In conclusion, screens are robbing us of our capacity for deep reading. The constant distractions and shallow nature of digital platforms hinder our ability to engage with complex ideas. However, by setting aside dedicated time for deep reading, embracing focused attention, and fostering empathy, we can correct our minds and reclaim the joys and benefits of engaging in deep reading. Let us not allow screens to be the sole medium through which we consume information and understand the world.

Hatch New Ideas with Glasp AI 🐣

Glasp AI allows you to hatch new ideas based on your curated content. Let's curate and create with Glasp AI :)