WHAT THE HELL

Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Will reading go extinct one day?

I’ve been resisting the culture’s adaptation to video from text-based information for a long time now. I’m a writer. Clearly I like to read. Video hits me as a less engaged form of communication and often less engaging, though a lot of people would disagree with that. Everyone loves images, right? What’s not to like? Why read columns of gray text when you can watch somebody telling you the same thing with a lot of flashy pictures and music?

But from a more practical standpoint, I find videos a lot less efficient than reading. In an article or a blog post, you can get the message pretty quickly and then zip through the piece as quickly as you like. You can skim parts. You can follow any headings provided and jump to the ones that interest you most. You can stop after the first paragraph and say you get it and move on.

Video seems to demand more of me. I seldom bail out of one because I feel invested in it if I make it past the opening segment. Maybe it’s just me. In the same way, I seldom walk out of a movie (or cut one short on Netflix or HBO).

Lately, though, I find myself succumbing. Most of the cultural and informational sites I like to visit are relying more and more on video, and now it seems like if I want to know about something that interests me I’m going to have to watch a video. It hasn’t been unrewarding. Here are a few I’ve pressed “play” on recently.

A band (Savannah Grand) released its new album on 8-track tape.

Salvadore Dali messed around at home with a kitten, a rake, and a cow skull.

I got some insight on how Liszt composed.

Carl Jung sat down for an interview back in the ’50s.

I wanted to know more about why the Millenium Tower in San Francisco is leaning so badly. It’s pretty fascinating. (And by the way, I could have read an article about this in about 5 minutes instead of spending 16 minutes with the video!)

A photographer born In 1843 talked about the Wild West in 1941 at the age of 98.

All of these were interesting, fun, provocative, and left me with more in my head than I went in with. I’m glad I indulged.

But seriously, what’s going to happen to writers if nobody wants to read anymore?

Asking for a friend …

[Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash.]

11 comments on “Will reading go extinct one day?

  1. lydiaschoch
    February 16, 2022

    I feel the same way about video. I do watch them, but I strongly prefer reading for the reasons you mentioned among others.

    I don’t think reading will go extinct, but I do wonder if it will continue to become less common until or unless we have some sort of disruption to the Internet.

    • Kevin Brennan
      February 16, 2022

      Good point about internet disruption! Distinctly possible one of these days, and where will that leave all the vidaddicts?

  2. Gus The Realist
    February 16, 2022

    These days I am reading much more than I am watching anything on TV. It’s all so repetitive. Its beginning to bore me to death

    • Kevin Brennan
      February 16, 2022

      Yeah, TV is even worse than YouTube. But I think that’s because they’re producing shows and movies for an audience a lot younger than me. 🙄

  3. ashleyomelia
    February 16, 2022

    I completely agree with you! I love to read! Being a fast reader means I can skim an article or buzz through it for the information I need instead of sitting through someone’s long introduction and the mandatory request to hit the subscribe button. That being said, I’ve found quite a few video tutorials that are incredibly helpful. One of the biggest categories for me right now is sewing, which of course works well in video format.

    • Kevin Brennan
      February 16, 2022

      I mainly use YouTube for guitar lessons and demos, and it’s great for that (like sewing). At least a lot of the vids now have markers on the timeline showing the topic headings, so that’s a time-saving improvement!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. kingmidget
    February 16, 2022

    I watched a video yesterday that was the visual version of recipe websites … you kknow, the long stories that go on and on before you get to the recipe. It was a video of a woman cooking eggs in the oven and bacon in a waffle iron. I watched it because I wanted to see how the eggs turned out. It must have lasted for 20 minutes. Why? Because the video was of her making the eggs and putting them in the oven and then putting the bacon in the waffle iron and then … just …. watching and talking while the eggs and bacon cooked and she kept talking about how quick making this meal was … while the video went on and on and on. Sheesh.

    I share your frustration with things moving to video for essentially the same reasons. It’s easier and quicker to read something than it is to watch a video. But, I’m afraid you and I are going to lose out on this one.

    • Kevin Brennan
      February 16, 2022

      I’ve seen some good recipe videos where they dissolve through the waiting time, which should be mandatory! I think a lot of people think they’re more interesting than they really are when they talk. 😆

      But yeah … the world is moving on without us, Mark.

      • kingmidget
        February 16, 2022

        As I watched that video, I kept thinking “when are they going to cut to the end? Is this really it?” And then “why am I watching this?”

  5. Audrey Driscoll
    February 16, 2022

    How is it that someone whose attention span is too short to read a piece of writing is okay with watching people saying the same thing? I’ve noticed bloggers incorporating videos into posts. I often skip them. Life is too short and there’s stuff I need to read!

    • Kevin Brennan
      February 16, 2022

      I know what you mean. I get impatient watching videos, especially when they’re basically an essay or article in visual form. Why do I need someone to read the piece to me? I could do it myself!

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This entry was posted on February 16, 2022 by in Et alia, Writing and tagged , , .
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