This story was on NPR’s “All Things Considered” last night, “Reading Study Shows Remarkable Decline in U.S.” The gist of it is that all kinds of people (kids, adults, etc.) aren’t reading as much as they used to read and the dang internets and other technologies are to blame.
I think the story was compelling and worthy listening and all that. Still, stories like this remind me of the piece that Tom Standage wrote for WIRED a couple of years ago, which, among other things, critiqued the dance “the waltz” as being the fall of civilization:
“The indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced … at the English Court on Friday last … It is quite sufficient to cast one’s eyes on the voluptuous interï¿½twining of the limbs, and close comï¿½pressure of the bodies … to see that it is far indeed removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females. So long as this obscene display was conï¿½fined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is … forced on the respectable classes of society by the evil example of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion.”
I mean, I am just old enough to lament the decline of reading of print/”words in the row” books, and I am just enough of a parent to want my 10 year old son to read some “good books” once in a while. But goodness, it is so so easy and so pleasurable to wallow in the failings of the young. Too easy and pleasurable, which gives me pause.