“Our culture has made a radical shift in the last century from a word-based society of readers to an image-based society of viewers. The media of our time are movies, television, and the Internet, not books. As a result, unlike our forebears of just a few generations ago, we don’t know how to read. To a large extent, we’ve lost that art.” – Howard G. Hendricks
It would be hard not to agree with Hendricks’ statement at least somewhat. The fact that I’ve never heard of the word “forebears” is a small testament to it. Noun. Ancestors, forefathers. There we go.
I love to read. Books, articles, blogs, handwritten letters, whatever. I haven’t had a stack of less than six books at my bedside since 2007(ish). I am absolutely fascinated by words.
But it hasn’t always been this way.
I’ve always been a movie junkie. ALWAYS. My mother raised me on what I consider the good stuff. Shag. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The genius Trifecta mentioned in my previous post. Dad tried to get me into Top Gun and such. Didn’t quite take. Though there were the occasional surprises like the Jurassic Park movies that we enjoyed together. : )
Around high school, I began to take a little bit of interest in movies of the Jane Austen genre (an interest that would skyrocket a few years later). I was entertained, but I remember thinking, really each time I watched, “What did people really do back then? It had to be so booooring.” I knew what they did. I watched four straight hours of them socializing, going to balls, eating together, playing rather mild sports, taking strolls through meadows, and reading reading reading in the A&E/Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice. What I meant was, though I was a little embarrassed to admit it to myself because it might mean I had an obsession with entertainment and no real hobbies of my own, “They didn’t have movies or TV! How did they survive?” I couldn’t bear to think of life without…you know…the little boxes we sit in front of ev.ery.day. Honestly, I was a little concerned that I considered the situation that horrific.
Since, I have indeed come to terms with the fact the every other generation since the beginning of time has survived, thrived even, without TV, movies, and the internet. It’s funny. Now I actually long for a “simpler” era when I would have seemingly endless time for my now-favorite activity.
Television, movies, and the internet are not bad things. They are great things! We get to see stories, stories that need to be shared, and shared visually and beautifully. We hear and see the news when it’s, like, actually very new. We can communicate with each other in a probably inestimable number of ways. My real-time face can see your real-time face when your real-time face is not physically in front of me. That’s crazy.
But. Back to Hendricks. Is it true? Have we let one art form, the one that has carried the history of God and man century after century, be squashed by a thousand others?
I don’t think it’s been squashed. But I do think it’s in need of serious attention.
I am so interested in bringing back the wonder of words.