A Speed Reading Culture

Life’s getting faster all the time. There seems to be more to read, more to see (DVDs), more music to listen to. It’s a media glut, and we can only really enjoy a slice of it.

But even with the stuff we get our hands on, do we really appreciate it’s value? I find myself really rushing through things these days. Books get digested, movies consumed, classical cds spun off the platter.

But do I really savour it, enjoy the experience?

There is this pressure to get it done, and then move on. There’s all this other stuff you have to try! But what about processing the memory, distilling it’s value? A bit of time to walk and think about it.

I wonder if life has become a DVD on fast forward – just a blur, no comprehension. Rush without meaning.


13 Responses to “A Speed Reading Culture”

  1. Crawdaddy Says:

    You just have to turn a lot of it off, accept you’ll miss some stuff, choose what to focus on, and be happy with that. I have 297 channels and I only watch TV during baseball season. I get a newspaper everyday but don’t beat myself up if I don’t read beyond the headlines on the front page. There are 3 billion blogs, but hey, I’m happy checking out only about 25 of them from time to time. No rush. Don’t read every magazine that tempts you. Choose wisely. And like you say, savor the things you do choose….

  2. Kelly Says:

    I totally agree with Crawdaddy and I have done those things. I’ve given away my television set. I take my news weekly with me to the cafeteria each day at work and slowly read every article that interests me. Now I have time to walk slowly through downtown, smile at strangers, strike up conversations, sip green tea while watching people stroll by. Life is sweeter than ever. K

  3. Rimpi Says:

    Hey! thanks for stopping by on my blog. I really enjoyed reading your posts…you have a wonderful way with words. 🙂

  4. ggwfung Says:


    never say flattery gets you nowhere. You’ve been added to my blogroll 🙂


  5. homeyra Says:

    I used to enter all bookshops, have a glimpse at a central table where the last publications were exposed and get an idea, same with music. At that time there were five or six TV channels, I knew Fridays was a good night to stay home… etc…

    Now the bookstores are mega-stores, I need a map to find my way in and out! Same with the music section, etc… I guess I am just repeating all that is said above.

    Now I really need an advisor to go through all that is said, written, published.
    I have stopped watching TV all together. Same with newspapers.
    I just check the headlines on few reference sites and read sometimes more in depth. I look for something and end up reading about something totally different. I enjoy the internet adventure. Often I read “again” an old book.

  6. Andreas Says:

    I’m so with you on this one, ggw, and I really appreciate everyone’s suggestions.

    EVERYTHING in the world today has been turned into a commodity that can be bought, sold and consumed, but feeds nobody’s body or soul. The situationists (bunch of v interesting French artist-philosophers in the 60’s) had this amazing image of what they called the “spectacle” – it’s all about how we live these fake lives mediated by products and goods and commodities. It’s like we’re watching our own lives pass us by on a TV screen or on a theater set… we’re just meant to consume and not actually live.

    Hey, thanks for adding me to your blogroll as well. Have reciprocated 😉

  7. SilverTiger Says:

    We imagine that modern life is faster and more crammed than some (unspecified) past Golden Age. But is it really? People may be publishing as never before but most of it isn’t worth a second glance: it needn’t detain us. If we cannot absorb everything that is of value, so what? It is enough if we take our fill and feel better for it.

    Like homeyra, Tigger and I have no TV. We put it outside and it disappeared. As individuals, we don’t have to follow the herd. In every age there has been a herd and those who didn’t follow it. It’s no different today.

    Every age has complained that the world is going to the dogs, comparing their own day to some fictitious Garden of Eden. We are no different. For some reason humanity loves to complain rather than getting on with the business of living. Look back into history: would you rather be living 100 years ago? 200? 1000? No, you wouldn’t. We have so much today that the Ancients could barely dream of. Because something is on offer you don’t have to take it. Read the good stuff, skip the junk.

    Tigger’s father is 80 years old and his sight is failing. He listens to audio books and loves to talk about them with me. We talk about Hawking, explorers, history, sailing. I am going to record Saint-Exupéry’s Sand, Wind and Stars for him because there is no audio book of it. There is time for the good stuff: you merely have to make it.

  8. whig Says:

    Rush with meaning, I think. At least for my own context, I can say that I see us in a very constrained period of history where everything is coming to a point of inflection, and people are scrambling to define the terms and direction when we go through that event horizon. What is life after death for the human race? We may not die at all, but merely transform. It is uncertainty that makes us uncomfortable.

  9. Catherine Says:

    You cannot do everything. That’s something I say out loud to myself from time to time. So what’s most important??? I took a business class a few years back and one of the assignments was to ask yourself, “what would you do with your time if you only had a year to live?” The next question was, “are you doing those things now?” The assignment was life changing for me.

  10. newhoosier Says:

    Sometimes I feel rushed to watch a movie I have from Netflix, just so I can return it. I had a movie for a month, and wasn’t expecting it to be good, but I watched it and it turned out to be better than I expected. Actually, I did that with both Click and King Kong not too long ago.

    However, I find no matter how much time flies, I still enjoy almost every second of it. The only time I’m not enjoying it is when I’m doing chores, and I can’t afford to pay someone else to do those…. yet.

  11. globetrotteri Says:

    How strange. I was just chatting with a friend about this a few minutes ago. I have a nasty habit of speed-reading, and have recently started wondering if I ‘speed through’ other areas of my life as well.

    I definitely do this when I’m traveling, but I think in this aspect, it’s needed. I’m like a sponge. I just absorb as much as I can when I’m on the road and recall the details later when I have time to sit and put my thoughts in order. I also carry a journal to record fine details, but most of it doesn’t come back to me until I’ve really had some time to reflect. It’s the only way (for me) to do it.

    However, I think this is a bad habit for everyday life. Why read a book if I’m just racing to finish it and get to the next one? Why watch a movie if I’m waiting to get up and do something else? Lately, I’ve been making a concious effort to slow down and take a breather.

    Thanks for reminding us all how important it is to stop and smell the roses.

  12. tobeme Says:

    Good post. There is so much available to us, it is important to remember to choose wisely what we feed our brain and to remember to savor those things that we do choose. Great reminder, thank-you!

  13. rlao Says:

    Recently I thought about this, “every generation complains about the previous generation, this and that.” There really isn’t any point in doing that. Good people still would do the right things but bad people may do even evil things. There are more temptations though now. So we have to be even more selective in what we want.

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