Skimming Not Reading


We moved from a society of readers to a county of skimmers. Well, the former shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone as photographs published on-line have four times less resolution than its counterparts in traditional print. Therefore, there isn’t anything surprising about this latest development as our eyes get tired quicker if we look at the computer screen longer. What is the consequence of that? Well, we skim content much more often and read carefully planed paragraphs much less, on average.

Is it a bad thing? I think it is. According to Daniel Levitin, we need to train our brains in order to be able to read content. Our brains are wired to scan content, in fact. Therefore, reducing one’s ability to read (on-line or in print) will have an impact on the development of the “reading brain,” which is a skill-set. In an age where a lot of content is found online somewhere, an individual’s capacity to process content through reading a book pays off. Let me explain. When we skim content, we really don’t really process that content for long term memory retrieval. In order to process that content effectively, we must rehearse that content to long term memory which obviously is a function of one’s ability to read and his willingness to rehearse presented stimuli.

I am afraid that the millennials will lose the “reading brain” skill-set and eventually will lose the ability (maybe even the patience) to open a book, read its content, and have an intellectual conversation about the piece, despite of whether the person likes the book story or not. It is easy for me to see how shallow millennials and many times non-millennials are becoming. Is it bad? Not sure how to answer this but in my opinion at least, it is dangerous.

As soon as people get shallow, meaning they won’t have enough thoughts in their heads, then maybe we will investigate the reasons for why the phenomenon is occurring. I’m not sure if this phenomenon will even exist as folks might be thoughtless anyways. What I see today in American culture is scary and eye opening to a large degree. Although I am not a sociologist, it makes me wonder what will happen to us when a large mass of Americans simply can’t function well due to poor reading skills.  Maybe we will turn into the actual homosapiens immodicus. Who knows!

It will be interesting to see what will happen in the immediate future. We are now skimmers not readers. Is skimming good enough for employment? Is it okay for everybody to condition themselves in believing that skimming in the method that will help the general public with reading demands? My answer is most certainly no. It is not okay.  It is an outrage!






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