Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Why do I read?

I read a post today at the Scholarly Kitchen that triggered some thoughts, not directly related to that post.

Why do people read?

I'm sure there are as many reasons as there are people. But generally, I would say people read for information. Why read directions? Why read traffic signs? (Granted, that's not generally categorized as "reading" in the same way one reads a book or article.) Why read a newspaper/magazine (paper or online version)?

Mainly for information, to feel informed; whether one is or not is another question, depending on the source and the reader's ability to comprehend what is written.

But people also read for entertainment. Why read fiction? Generally to be entertained, unless, of course it is an assigned reading!

But, why else do people read?

Thinking about it, I read for all of the above, but more deeply, I read for character formation. I try to weigh carefully what I intake in the form of media in general, and reading in particular, with a thought to how it will form my character.

We don't realize it most of the time, but what we read (or watch) has a strong impact on who we are and who we are becoming. Even, and I would say especially, fiction. Our guard is down more when we read fiction, so we are more easily influenced without realizing it.

But, nonfiction influences who we are, too. Why do people feel so depressed after doom-scrolling their Twitter/Facebook/RSS/whatever feed? What they read is forming them, whether they realize it or not.

I periodically purge my RSS feed because I tend to subscribe too freely to things that pique my interest. Frequently, after a month or two, I find that what I'm reading on a particular site is having a negative affect on who I want to become, so I purge it. I think that's healthy. I don't want to become closed-minded, so I explore. But, I also want to become someone who reflects Jesus more clearly, so I need to prune some of those explorations.

And that is where discernment comes in. It's too easy to purge something because it makes you uncomfortable. It's also too easy to keep subscribing because it confirms what you want to believe (confirmation bias).

May God grant us wisdom in what we read!

Just an
</idle musing>

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