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Reading insecurity: harmful effects of the Internet become a study and are compared with books

Many say that reading articles on the Internet does not come close to the quality of reading on paper. But it seems that it was not always so

It seems fictitious but there is still a large portion of society that questions the legitimacy of online reading. Not only that, but it puts it in check compared to books. What seems to slip through the fingers, and, like the worn yellow pages, not so long ago that the legitimacy of novels was, in its own time, questioned, insulted and snubbed.

They were often accused of leading their most fervent enthusiasts to inexcusable mistakes and, for all intents and purposes, capable of ruining them for the practicality of real life. Sound familiar?

These expectations, and also the prejudices in both types of reading, became a study at the university. After all, technology and literature have a lot in common. In his essay on the so-called phenomenon reading insecurity, Katy Waldman describes the current climate as an inevitable result of orality.

But it goes beyond that, however. What his study tries not to condemn the reading of the internet at the expense of classic reading, but rather to establish a parallel between the two modalities, as a way of documenting hysterias about the habits of youth.

Reading and reliable source

Books are the source of knowledge

Part of the feeling that lower online reading is called traditional reading in the existing concept just because it is a habit of young people. Even if that is the source of some of the prejudices. In this regard, Katy argues that "books and articles investigate the way we read now" and "a long series of studies suggests that people read the Internet differently than they read novels".

Katy goes beyond and parallels reading in historical context, noting that spoken language has always been portrayed as unreliable, this can be especially true in relation to language spoken by women. Waldman writes:

I can't help thinking that the big debate over ?orality and literacy? – the slippery nature of one versus the stable authority of the other – is back, more or less. This time, we launched the new technology as unreliable and the printed book looks like a relic as the reliable source.

Katy Waldman – The Insecurity of Reading.

What ends up encompassing the debate is perhaps the fact that, inevitably, what makes books today enjoy certain statuses are the same reasons they were condemned in their time. Many of them relate to their ability to engage and the strong relationship with oral practice and youth.

Madame Bovary ahead of her time

It is worth remembering that not even the novels that marked history were able to escape the sentence of condemnation. We must not forget that, in its time, absolute romance, Madame Bovary (1856) had been condemned among his own. And it went further, since for many, what looked like a great celebration of romantic love was nothing more than a sharp criticism.

In his novel, Gustave Flaubert describes a teenage girl Emma Bovary who ?got her hands dirty with books borrowed from old libraries?. Everything that Emma has is exciting compared to her life. Before the wedding, she was in love; but the happiness that should have followed that love did not come, and she, in turn, felt cheated.

What she did not find at her wedding, Emma tried to discover what happiness, passion, rapture, that seemed so beautiful in books, in so many other places. In the arms of other men. Adultery. Escandlo. A romance ahead of its time.

In the conflict with Emma Bovary and her daydreams, Flaubert is channeling a century of concerns about young women particularly susceptible to the fantasies they find in novels and seductions of reading.

Madame Bovary the Zeitgeist of her time

For Katy Waldman, Madame Bovary's plot is not unreasonable. Since, from the end of the 18th century to the middle of the 19th century, she added, women were considered at risk for not being able to differentiate between physical and life.

In Madame Bovary, Flaubert may be elaborating some of his own anxieties, being really divided between this romantic imagination and a kind of realism, which would succeed this avant-garde.

Part of Madame Bovary Flaubert trying to exorcise her own really powerful romantic imagination. It is the alienation whose side effects are really powerful. In criticizing Emma, ??he criticizes a society obsessed with superficiality.

Austen and the hysteria of excesses

Walking in march r, comes Jane Austen, who, following the example of Flaubert, was another novelist who played with ideas about reading. In Northanger Abbey (1817) Austen tells the story of Catherine Morland, a lover of novels whose reading makes her believe that a man with whom she is staying is a murderer.

Catherine is a typical young woman who cannot distinguish between fact and fiction. But, she dares not criticize her protagonist so fiercely. On the contrary. Austen is a kind of master at satirizing excesses, but she is also praising the novels' ability to cultivate judgment and taste.

The reading of women, especially teenagers, has always been associated with the inflammation of sexual passions; with radical and liberal ideas; with arrogance; with an attempt to overturn the status quo. THE Northanger Abbey ridicules the social notion that portrayed women as so stupid that they would not be able to distinguish between reality and the physical.

A parallel that we can draw, for example, with all the prejudice about communities of fanfiction. Who hasn't seen himself criticizing this online reading style? Or even with what we read on social networks. Although today's fears are different from Austen's times – more focused on what we find on the Internet than on how we interpret what we read – there is a similarity after all.

Our contemporary anxieties about reading reflect a suspicion that the individual is capable of differentiating good materials from bad materials or using the information they absorb in a productive, constructive and safe way.

On the other side of the coin, what was once seen as a risk in books is now praised as a force to be reckoned with. Today, many value novels for promoting direction, focus. What, for some of the critics of the eighteenth and nineteenth century romance, getting lost was exactly the problem.


Of course, it is not at all worrying the way in which we allow some means of communication to absorb us. An echo perhaps distant from previous concerns about young people and novels may parallel the current discourse on young people and video games.

However, the whole assumption that books can be dangerous seems to have fallen by the wayside, which raises the question of how today's new sources of entertainment and information will look to critics and scholars of the future.

50 years from now, we may regret our inability to read online in a satisfactory efficient manner. What are the stimuli that the future holds? For now, just place bets and, just in case, get a ride in nostalgia.

fyesterday: New York Times