Deep Reading: A Cultural Shift?
It’s an unsettling reality to consider, but more and more, it seems like we live in an era where the ties to deep, reflective reading are unraveling. The allure of digital distractions and the siren call of “doomscrolling” screens now comes, like everything in modern life – in Tall, Grande, and Vente.
Few seem to contest that the draw of our e-devices is overpowering the allure of turning pages. According to a report from the Pew Research Center, although a promising 72% of American adults reported reading a book in the past year, the median number of books consumed stood at a mere four. The startling fact isn’t the number itself, but what this decline suggests about our evolving cultural values and priorities. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has echoed similar concerns, pointing to a significant wane in literary reading, particularly among the youth. This isn’t merely a trend in leisure activities. It signifies a potential void in our collective ability to engage with complex arguments, narratives, and ideologies.
The Double-Edged Sword of Short-Form Content
Platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram have become monumental pillars in the world of information dissemination. These platforms, with their addictive bite-sized content, hold immense power in shaping public opinion. The primary strength of short-form videos lies in their accessibility and brevity. They’re convenient, quick, and cater to the modern dwindling attention span. However, their brief nature also stands as their inherent weakness.
Dr. Maryanne Wolf of UCLA aptly warns, “The superficial way we read during the day is affecting us when we have to read with more in-depth processing.” The challenges posed by this format aren’t merely about retention. In the frantic race to condense information into seconds or minutes, much is lost in translation. Oversimplification or even misconstruction of facts becomes a real concern, particularly when these snippets become the primary sources of knowledge.
Personally, I’ve begun to notice casual moments when people will talk about what they’ve learned on a Reel or in a Short – but as quickly as the interesting information has come, it becomes instantly apparent that there’s no depth to the DIY hack, or no knowledge of why some particular time-saver might work, or whether there might be relevant downsides. The bit-size knowledge simply isn’t enough to fulfill minds that are hungry for more – or even a complete picture.
Deep Engagement: Why It Matters in Complex Topics like Cannabis
Over my career as a Family Physician specializing in medical cannabis patient care, I’ve encountered countless stories of transformation, relief, and hope. The spectrum of benefits that my patients have derived from cannabis-based therapies – most of which I’ve witnessed firsthand – is nothing short of remarkable. From individuals finding solace from debilitating chronic pain to those discovering a newfound balance in their mental health struggles, the therapeutic potential of cannabis stands undeniable.
Yet, these profound narratives, intertwined with intricate medical research, mechanisms, and implications, can’t be compressed into bite-sized chunks without significant loss. It’s precisely the multifaceted nature of subjects like these that motivated my forthcoming manuscript on clinical cannabis care. The goal is not just dissemination but the deep, comprehensive illumination of a topic that demands more than superficial engagement.
Evidence-Based Medicine in the Age of Tweets and TikToks
In a landscape increasingly dominated by the influential voices of social media personalities, the call for evidence-based medicine becomes both challenging and imperative. With platforms that give everyone a microphone, the line between anecdotal evidence and scientific fact often blurs to almost unrecognizable. Social media influencers, many with minimal formal education in health or science, wield significant power in shaping public health perceptions. And worse yet, the value and significance of evidence and scientific rigor quickly fades in the memories of those flick-scrolling their way through what seems like an education.
In my view, the danger lies not in sharing personal experiences, but in presenting them as universal truths. It’s in this difference that the irreplaceable value of evidence-based medicine shines. Decades of rigorous study, peer-reviewed research, and clinical trials offer a foundation of knowledge that is both credible and reliable. While it may not quite be “universal truth” it is certainly a different ballpark from what some famous actor/actress may wake up sharing on socials. To prioritize fleeting trends and unverified claims over this bedrock of evidence isn’t merely a matter of preference; it’s a question of public health, safety, and well-being. Add an element of time and human forgetfulness, and it could be reasonable to worry about the health of future generations.
While the digital age offers access to information like we’ve never seen before, there are critical challenges we still face to discern quality from quantity. Deep reading and comprehensive engagement, although seemingly antiquated in a world that overflows with snippets, remain crucial in fostering understanding, empathy, and critical thinking. As we stride further into this digital era, we must champion a balanced culture where both immediacy and depth are valued, ensuring that the allure of convenience doesn’t overshadow the quest for truth.
- Pew Research Center. (2019). Who doesn’t read books in America?
- National Endowment for the Arts. (2007). To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence.
- Wolf, M. (2018). Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World.
This blog considers the declining trend in deep reading, the rise and implications of short-form content across various media in contrast with longer form materials, and the value of evidence-based medicine in a digital landscape that is influenced by social media personalities. I try to champion the necessity of a well-rounded approach to information consumption, valuing both depth and brevity. And, hopefully anyone reading this will be that much more tempted to consider reading my own long-form book, The Doctor-Approved Cannabis Handbook