The Internet Ruined Literature – Op-Ed Piece


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The Internet Ruined Literature – Op-Ed Piece


The internet is probably the most important advancement mankind has made in recent memory. We have found a way to gather all the information we have written in one spot for any person with a device to read or watch that info. We took our libraries and combined them for the consumption of the average person. The internet changed the world. It is why the computer took off, and one is in every home in America, it is why phones are no longer only phones, it is why social media is a term that you not only understand but don’t question. It is even the reason you are reading these very words. Without the internet, none of that would be.

The expansive book holding, image storing, internet shaped the world in the same way that the printing press did. It gave vital information to more people, allowing them more ideas to ponder and learn about. (That is what happens when you read, you are given novel topics you would have never thought of before) The printing press allowed people from all over Europe to have copies of books to read, so instead of listening to the priest’s sermon, you can read the Bible yourself and make your own opinions of it all. “What did Jesus mean when he said that he was the Son of Man? Find out yourself! Cause you own the book!” Reading is arguably the most important thing a person can do to improve themselves since that knowledge can be applied to multiple situations in their life. Imagine the world going from one that nobody reads to everyone knowing how to read. That is what the printing press did to everyone, giving them ideas that they never had before. I don’t believe it is a coincidence that some of our brightest minds came after the printing press. The Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the Medical Revolution all can give some credit to the printing press for their greatness. No press means no books, and that means less ingenious creative material ever recorded. Would we have had humanism, or the train, or penicillin, if the printing press wasn’t there to distribute books on such a large scale?


The inventive, free-to-use internet was like the printing press on drugs. Reaching so many people and affecting our lives so much that life would seem unnatural without the man-made invention. Try to, for a split second, imagine a world where there was no internet. Can you? If you can, then imagine a world without any books cause that is a world without the printing press—both game-changers in their own right.

book

This invention of grandness, this library of words and images, we call the internet, is great. We should all be happy that we live in such a time that we can search up any question we want and then use that opportunity to waste the search on cats and boobs. Many will say that technology has ruined the world we live in and has infected our meandering minds, sinful souls, and blessed beings, but none of those pundits will admit to the success that technology has had for them.


Technology is only bad when it doesn’t help you, and since we all like talking about bad things more than good ones, we act like technology has nothing good to give us. When your kid is on the video games for too long, technology is cancer rotting the youth’s brains, but you fail to acknowledge the school’s computer room, which the kid uses to research their papers.

When you watch too much TV, and procrastination is the habit your body forms, you put the blame on the screen of technology, but when you use the GPS to get where you need to go, you never utter anything of technology’s hand. How many of us even realize the useful things that technology gives us? I use it every day, and I am sure that I take my ability to research topics and share my thoughts for granted. I don’t mean to, as I am sure that you don’t either. We are all so accustomed to the easiness and usefulness of it all that we never take a step back and appreciate the greatness that is before us.


As I say all of this about technology, it has hurt the very field that I love so much; literature. But before I do that, let me go into how it has helped literature.

  • It gave guys like me a chance to say whatever the hell I want, whenever I want. I can go on a rant about books being bought by their authors or share a short story about guns with the reader directly. It is a privilege that only the internet could provide. I’d have to be employed by someone and write what they wanted me to write before the internet. Can you imagine that? I’d be in my fifth article before I’d start going on rants that make no sense.

  • Authors can now self-publish. The self-published author gave a voice to anyone with the proper tools to write. You no longer have to get a book deal. You can write it and put it up for sale, all on your own. This gives the write unprecedented freedom with their work, not constrained to the limits of the editor’s opinions.

These are a few things that authors and writers should be grateful to technology for helping our field.

Unfortunately, one area has been ruined by laptops’ presence in every room, eyes on every phone, and information being shared all the time.


The internet no longer allows for cultural phenomena to happen within the literature community. Think of it, when was the last book that the masses knew and spoke about; One that could be considered a trend and a must for everyone to know. Harry Potter?


I dare to say that there hasn’t been any book or book series on a level of cultural phenomenon like Harry Potter because of the internet. Remember, the boy wizard series started in 1998, so that was before the internet took off and was in everyone’s homes. When the boy with the scar on his forehead debuted, the world was very different.


If you go up to someone in the street and ask them to name a bestseller, can they? Or ask someone to name a book; I wonder which ones they even bring up? How many of the most popular books were published after the internet.


You know, let’s have some fun here.


Here are the last five winners for the Goodreads Fiction Choice Award.

  • 2020 – The Midnight Library by Mat Haig

  • 2019 – The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

  • 2018 – Still Me by Jojo Moyes

  • 2017 – Little Fire Everywhere by Celeste Ng

  • 2016 – Truly Madly GuiltyLiane Moriarty

Can you honestly name any of them? If I were to meet you on the street and casually brought up any of these books, would you know what I was even talking about? If you can, then you have officially earned your badge for a book nerd, and I wouldn’t think that you are part of the majority, but rather in the reading community.

book

I’ll be frank with you right now, I have spoken to people about books over the five years, people who buy books and enjoy them in their spare time, and not once has any of those books been brought up in conversation. And these are the ones that are supposed to be popular! (Now, if you want to claim that it is my friends that are the problem, then you can, but that doesn’t change the fact that every reader I spoke to knows of Harry Potter, and not these books)


The average person can’t name any of these books, and it is for a reason that literature doesn’t want to admit to itself. It just isn’t that popular. You can read a book of the year, and people at the table you sit at, would not even know the name of the book. After a while, literature has to ask itself that maybe, just maybe, the masses left and are doing something else. Sorry writers, but your words aren’t that good to keep people around. (also, the internet kind of screwed you over too)

The literature community has become a niche audience because of the internet. People are more interested in reading blog posts than books, so the general audience is never found. Let’s face it; if you are reading this blog, then you are not the typical reader; you like beautifully written, well-structured books, you like complex yet simple stories, You’re a book nerd like me if you like reading of writers owning their own words or writers talking about certain things. You spend your afternoons thinking of Austen’s romance novels or Shakespeare’s relevance today. You quote Orwell in casual conversation. “Big Brother is watching. “We are all equal. Some are more equal than others.” You know the identity of Samuel Clemens. You are a die-hard reader, so the internet’s growth doesn’t sway you away from reading. You will read anyway. It’s the casual reader that the literary field lost. Those that read whatever is popular, those that read what everyone else is reading, those who read the books that are a cultural phenomenon. Those people have left, and I don’t know if they are ever coming back.


That gets me to my next point; the internet has converted casual readers into casual viewers, or casual gamers, or casual social media followers. The average person who doesn’t care about themes or motifs is now watching their favorite shows on Netflix to pass the time, not reading another book. They are playing video games that seem to be getting longer and longer when they have some spare time, not dive into a few more chapters of their favorite book. They check out what everyone is saying on social media a few times during the day, not go through a few lines from a new book they found. The thing that none of them are doing; reading.

People are doing other things besides reading. We are all literate, but none of us read.

books

Can this change? I don’t know. There is a major problem I see with literature competing against these other fields. They all seem to do a good job of keeping you involved once you start. If you are on youtube, the creator tells you to subscribe, and then you have another video pop up before you can get to the remote. Video games are adding more and more levels so that you must devote days upon days, sometimes even more of your life to the game. Social media preys on our own self-interest in each other. We feel left out on what is happening, so after a while, we will check social media as if it is a drug.


Literature shouldn’t expect much help from their competition. Your TV will never tell you to stop what you are doing and read a book, even though that book may help you more than the TV. Video games will never do this. I don’t even have to elaborate here. Don’t expect people on social media to tell you to stop tweeting or posting and read a book.


Society is not encouraging people to read, and what started it all? The internet.

Ending

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Greg Luti is an editor and blogger on pensandwords.com. He wrote this piece using the internet. He blames the internet for any errors you find here.

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