Jan 15, 2020, 06:28AM

Enough with the Life-Hacking!

Silicon Valley is full of dilettante nerds, not philosopher-kings.

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The Internet has made it much harder to read a book. This is undeniable. Reading on computers, tablets, and phones isn't bad or wrong, but it’s different. The types of writing that have taken over as the Internet has seeped further into our lives are noticeable. Lists. Three-to-five minute reads. Visuals. White space on the screen. The fewer words the more likely those words are read.

"I'm too busy to read," is a common refrain. Sometimes this is true. People with demanding jobs. New parents. People who read so much at work that they can't enjoy reading for pleasure anymore. Life can be too busy to deal with anything extra at times. But it’s not just being busy that keeps people away from books.

It's also about distraction and our collective resignation to the forces that have hijacked our attention spans. Whether phone addiction or Netflix binge, many of us feel like books are just too much. And now there's a fucking app for this self-imposed problem of not wanting to bother with anything that seems too long or might actually involve a commitment... and yes, buying a book is a commitment of sorts.

Twelve minutes is all you need to sound like you've actually read a book. This app dilutes non-fiction bestsellers down to their core. Cliff's Notes for the next generation. Don't read this like I'm praising this tech shortcut. I'm exhausted with the relentless emphasis on efficiency and life-hacking. If reading is a form of meditation, then this app is like a pill that enables a distorted version of time-warped two-minute knowledge meditation.

Let me wrap it up quickly, before I drain you of an extra minute of your time. A brief anecdote: I recently ordered a bookcase. I'm not handy, but managed to screw in all the screws and connect the boards. It kind of looks like a tree, vertical with shelves angled up on each side. I found books from the last five years, most of which I haven't read. I put them on shelves, saving the bottom two for our daughter's toddler books. I fit the bookcase perfectly into a corner. I'm not the fastest reader and am easily distracted by modern life. But I refuse to give up. I’ve made the commitment to these authors, even if they don't know it. I will read every page of these damn books. I will.


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