This is an essay I wrote in 2010
I recently realized that I haven’t properly read a book for weeks. I stopped as if struck and wondered, what has happened to that great love I once felt for books? I could sit undisturbed at a desk or in bed for hours, turning pages, oblivious to anyone or anything. But now… as soon as I open a book, within fifteen minutes a question arises: I wonder what’s happening on the net.
Compared to watching a movie on the internet, reading books is hard. Unbelievable barbarism — I have to imagine things myself!! I have to think!! To strain my brain.
— Foolish man, where have you been living, nowadays, nobody reads anymore. Look how easy it is to acquire knowledge from the internet. You download an audiobook, so you don’t have to strain your eyes. And even audiobooks are outdated. Rather, download a movie. And if your book hasn’t been made into a movie, then it’s not worth reading.
Yes, indeed, gobbling up information from a computer screen is much easier. But I don’t want to be a glutton who thoughtlessly swallows every byte down his throat, without considering its impacts.
A person on the internet is like a sheep in a huge pasture. The tastiest grass in the world grows in this pasture. One blade of grass is more beautiful than the next. And there are so many! A sheep that gets here for the first time is bewildered. It takes one bite, chews it a bit, but doesn’t finish it because its mind has already spotted the next, even more beautiful and tasty blade of grass. It spits out the previous food and rushes to the next one. But again, having sunk its teeth in, it notices even tastier-looking grass. And so it runs from one blade to the next, never getting full. In the end, it dies of hunger amidst this food harem because each blade seemed better than the last.
The same happens to a surfer on the internet, especially one without a clear goal. One link leads to another, the second to a third, the amount of information is enormous and astounding. So much to learn here, but lack of patience doesn’t allow completing anything, as the next snippet of information flickers somewhere.
The same can happen to a great book lover in a library. Fortunately, books physically exist, they have weight. And no matter how crazy the book addict is, they can’t take the entire library home. They may wander among the shelves for hours, but eventually, they pick one or two works that interest them more. When the clock strikes, the library doors close, and they have no choice but to go home with those works, and there they can concentrate on one piece.
It’s possible to have focus on the internet. It requires tremendous effort. How can you focus your attention on something when notifications are flashing in one corner, an ad in another, and on top of everything else, your favourite music is playing in the background?
Maybe, turn off the internet. But then you read about something that needs closer examination. You open the browser and enter the concept or idea that was unclear to you, and doing that you open the gates of hell. Because the flood of information knocks you off your feet. You find an even more interesting topic, forget the old one, and start researching the new one.