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Social Media’s Rise Challenges Book Reading Culture

As social media gains ground, the timeless tradition of book reading faces a formidable challenge

By Mir Tanveer

In today’s rapidly evolving world, characterized by relentless advancements in Science and Technology, virtually every aspect of our lives bears witness to profound transformations. The digital age, ushered in by the Internet, has fundamentally reshaped the way we interact with our global community, delivering an unprecedented wealth of information to our fingertips. Yet, as we revel in this technological leap, we are confronted with a conspicuous decline in the time-honoured practice of reading books, as an increasing number of individuals opt for the allure of social media platforms. Social Media’s Rise Challenges Book Reading Culture

Gone are the bygone days when individuals would immerse themselves in the written word, dedicating hours to books in the cozy confines of their homes or within the hushed sanctuaries of libraries? In our contemporary milieu, the prevailing trend seems to be a pervasive infatuation with the content churned out on social media sites, relegating books to the sidelines. This societal transformation has garnered a spectrum of perspectives from academics, research scholars, journalists, writers, and columnists, all of whom provide nuanced insights into the dwindling fervour for book reading.

A research scholar specializing in Media Studies astutely observed that the meteoric rise of social media, especially among the younger demographic, has unquestionably cast a shadow over the traditional pursuit of reading books. “Today’s students exhibit a predilection for social media, with digital e-learning platforms now vying for the terrain once monopolized by physical books,” he said.

Social Media's Rise Challenges Book Reading Culture

In stark contrast, Aabid Bashir, a dedicated lawyer with an unswerving passion for books, propounded, “the idea that the educational infrastructure bears partial responsibility for the withering of the book reading tradition. He contends that inculcating a love for reading in students during their formative years is paramount.

“Regrettably, the contemporary school system often falls short in terms of functional libraries, which, in turn, impedes students’ development of a profound affinity for reading,” he added.

The erudite writer Dr. Tanveer Hayat posited that, in the present epoch, cultivating a book reading culture presents formidable challenges, as smartphones wield a compelling allure, distracting students and the wider populace alike.

“Many now gravitate toward internet-based content, encompassing videos, documentaries, and podcasts, as an enticing alternative to traditional book consumption,” he said.

Conversely, a college student cogently articulated that the proliferation of social media platforms has served to diminish students’ ardour for reading books. For the majority, their focus has shifted exclusively to the subjects they are currently studying, leaving little room for the exploration of literature and history.

Meanwhile, certain students diligently preparing for competitive examinations confided that their sole objective is to excel in these tests, which leaves scant room for a genuine passion for reading. In this context, the pursuit of knowledge finds itself supplanted by a single-minded materialistic pursuit.

Interestingly, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, an unexpected resurgence of book reading occurred in the life of Mir Huzaif, a Higher Secondary student. Trapped within the confines of his home due to school closures, he found solace and inspiration in the pages of books. This newfound hobby endured, even in the presence of readily accessible social media platforms.

A distinguished scholar within the Urdu department at Central University of Kashmir passionately affirmed, “Notwithstanding the omnipresence of social media, ardent book enthusiasts still harbor a profound appreciation for literature imbued with quality content.” “The insidious time-wasting proclivities associated with social media and advocated for the creation of nurturing environments conducive to reading,” he added.

The discourse surrounding the state of book reading culture remains a multifaceted one, marked by a kaleidoscope of perspectives emanating from scholars, students, writers, and academic luminaries. While some bemoan the erosion of this cherished tradition in the face of the burgeoning social media juggernaut, others continue to extol the enduring value of books as repositories of knowledge, generators of creativity, and enhancers of linguistic prowess. To rekindle society’s affection for this venerable practice amid the relentless rise of social media, concerted efforts from a multitude of stakeholders are imperative. The cultivation of a love for books from an early age and the provision of nurturing reading environments represent indispensable steps towards reviving this invaluable cultural heritage.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of this newspaper

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