Recently, a wonderful play on words was pointed out to me while visiting my local Half Priced Books Store. It was on a t-shirt that read, “Make America Read Again!” I nearly plonked down the cash to buy the thing. I’m not much of a t-shirt guy so, realizing the shirt would be incarcerated in a drawer after the fresh wore off, I resisted the impulse.
About a week later, I read an article about how research is showing that all these wonderful technological diversions that have exploded on the scene over the past decade are co-inciding with people being more unhappy than ever.
Isolation is on the rise. Interpersonal skills are deteriorating. Grumpiness is up, serenity down. According to the article, there is an overwhelming correlation between screen time and this general unhappiness.
Last night, as I sat quietly reading, I came across the quote, “The art of silence is being lost,” which was the final weight that pushed the Rube Goldberg device* that is my brain into action. Happiness, I mused, is unplugging and enjoying a good book in the stillness of quiet.
How much needs be turned off in order to be unplugged? To be in stillness and quiet? My ears ring constantly so I always have background music going. For many silence is elusive, especially for parents with small children dashing about. Where can stillness be found in a world that runs fill tilt, 24/7?
Is happiness to be found in unplugging and being lost in a good book?
In order to Make America Read Again, we, as authors need to write books that entice people. We are competing against Netflix, Xbox, iEverything, and diversion on demand. And I honestly think we are winning. Like the t-shirt, the new is wearing off technology. Hollywood certainly is in a slump. Strong plots and well crafted stories can and will save the literary day.
*A Rube Goldberg device is an overly complicated machine that performs very simple tasks; best example is the board game Mousetrap.