Episode Two – Is Reading an Addiction?

Is reading an addiction? Are we happily addicted or is it disrupting our lives? And does our addiction to reading prevent us from seeing or accepting the idea of a post-literate future? The exploration beyond literacy continues.

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If you are interested in more about this topic, check out the chapter on the Beyond Literacy e-book.


4 thoughts on “Episode Two – Is Reading an Addiction?

  1. Great podcast! I love the back and forth.

    I love that you didn’t turn this into a joke. Addictions are serious. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “good” addiction. Even things that are considered “good”, like reading, exercise, and healthy eating, can become dangerous and harmful when they move from being habits to being addictions. Your health suffers, your relationships suffer, and your job/studies suffer.

    Technology, like e-books and e-readers, tablet computers, and smart phones only act an enablers for people with reading addictions. AND for people with internet addiction or addictions to social media or gaming.

    Moving into the post-literate future has the potential to “cure” these addictions, however, will new ones spring up?

    1. Melissa – I think that addiction is a personality trait that people struggle with. For instance, my understanding is that people who have addictions often find themselves replacing one with another. Perhaps they give up drugs, but find themselves over eating, etc. So I think that post literacy has the potential as much as anything else to offer addictive opportunities. But what will these addictions be? If we no longer read/write, then reading addiction will disappear (or become humorously archaic) but perhaps be replaced by a “hive-mind participation” addiction.

      In Phillip K. Dick’s science fiction classic “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” there is a technology where you can connect to a machine and dial-in and experience any desired emotion for a certain amount of time. And in the novel, a character seems to have an addiction to this machine. She only wants to feel simulated emotion – natural emotion doesn’t cut it anymore. I can see the concept of telepathy or the hive-mind as a site of possible addiction in the future. Wanting to be constantly connected to others, or constantly connected to streams of information, etc. Being isolated or disconnected will be scary.

      Does any of this sound plausible?

      1. This sounds very plausible! In fact, I think people experience this to a certain degree already. A fear of isolation, of disconnection, from a constant stream of information is something that people who are addicted to their electronic devices (such as laptops, tablets, computers, phones, etc.) experience. And even those who are not addicted experience this fear, this anxiety, to a lesser degree. Just think about how it feels to forget your phone at home for the day. Pretty horrible, right? This may be intensified in the post-literate future.

        1. This makes me think of Facebook– I’ve heard on more than one occasion people use the phrase “I won’t be able to communicate with people or get information unless I’m on Facebook–it’s a necessary evil”. To me this speaks to an absolute fear of being disconnected to the point where they are willing to go along with a social media platform they are unhappy with/knows has had issues in the past like cyber bullying. I’m wondering though if maybe (being the eternal optimist) this fear will actually decrease in the post-literate future. Consider if we were to take a pill— would we have to deal with grappling a constant stream of information if we had all the information as soon as we swallowed it? Maybe we’ll fully comprehend the material as soon as we receive it so that we don’t have to deal with working through the information. Then again…just a plausible scenario….

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