The Pretentious Corner: On Meat & Whether Technology Is The Enemy of Reading

Inspirational Lubricant Du Jour: The greasy meat juice that is no doubt slowly replacing the blood in my veins and arteries. 

I hope all seven of you will forgive the tardiness of this post. I’ve consumed essentially nothing but delicious cow flesh in the last 48 hours and have spent the afternoon wondering whether this will have an effect on my physical well being. (Answer: effects mostly positive, largely soporific and only partially crippling).

Yesterday’s feast looked like this:

Minus the bread. Bread takes up valuable stomach space.

And today’s feast looked like this:

Minus the broccoli. See above.

That latter is from Peter Luger Steakhouse and if you enjoy the consumption of animal parts even a little bit, you really oughta make the pilgrimage. It’s the good kind of threesome of steakhouses.

All of which is to say, by way of disclaimer, that the amount of cow flesh currently coursing through my system may be affecting my ability to be punny, clever, inspired and/or upright. It’s like being drunk but with added PETA-infuriating benefits.

So let’s transition. I’m gonna keep it short (like, actually short, not just P.D. Montgomery shot), and offer up a poll to my fellow Bro-writers. I mostly just want to see if they read articles other than their own, but let’s pretend that I’m also interested in their opinions.

I’m on summer vacation now which means that I am not at work for more or less all of the time that you are at work. Only for about the next 10 weeks or so, though. So don’t worry. One of the things I tend to do while you are at work is read a lot more fiction than I do during the other parts of the year. With so much free time on my hands (did I mention the free time?), I can read things I want to read rather than things I need to read for my job. The impetus and excitement I feel to read for pleasure in the summer is something I look forward to every year, without fail.

Now, when I am working (which is not now, nor for anytime in the near future), I spend my days around people who came of age right alongside the smart phone and streaming video revolution. The first iPhone was released when my oldest students were 13, so essentially all of their teenage lives have been marked by the instant gratification and portability of Smartphones. The younger the student, the longer smartphone technology has been a part of his life and the faster and more remarkable that technology has been. I’m not the first to point out that today’s kids are growing up in an entirely different world than even those of us who were teenagers 10 years ago (hashtag old).

Because of what I do, I’m perpetually wondering what effect the technological explosion of the past ten years or so has had on the reading habits of teenagers. I’m sure I am over-stating just how much I enjoyed reading for pleasure as a kid/teenager, but I’m also sure it was much more than the vast majority of my students seem to. My take on the matter is that reading has become the purview of school in the same way that chemistry and biology are for most kids. Reading is a kind of homework just like math problems or studying chemistry and kids have come to see it only as such. (No offense to science, of course, which is awesome). These days, kids are too infrequently shown that reading is first and foremost a pleasure exercise (heh heh), in addition to being something you do for school.

My main questions are these: does their having been steeped in technology and instant gratification essentially since they became sentient effect how they view reading? Does the fact that reading requires you to sit in one place for an extended period and not constantly check your social media updates disincline them toward the act? Because reading is not generally an instant gratification exercise but rather a slow-burn, long-term reward one – does that mean today’s teenagers simply don’t bother with it when given other options? These are troubling, meat-woozy times, my friends.

I will admit that I’ve often felt the pull of social media, text messages and emails when sitting down for a long reading session. “Am I missing something? What if I don’t see an important, timely or hilarious post? Maybe I’ll just check real quick.” To date, it hasn’t affected my desire or ability to read fiction for sustained periods, but I imagine that’s because I was used to and enjoyed reading long before all this fancy technology came along. That’s not the case for today’s kiddos. For many of then, technology and reading either held equal significance or, I suspect, technology has been much more prevalent. As a result, reading feels like an imposition, something that is infringing upon time that could be spent with technology. (Listen to me denigrating screens. My mother would be so proud). So is it really true? Every generation thinks that kids don’t read as much as they did “when we were young”, but could this be the first generation where that’s actually true?

Unlike the whipper snappers of today, my fellow Brocasters and I were almost out of college when the first iPhone showed up. We had cell phones in high school, but they were hilariously brick-ish things on which we could barely send a text message. There were a few touchscreen devices during our formative years, but they didn’t really catch on, largely due to the fact that they were incredibly shitty.

“Seriously, boss. These things are the wave of the future!” #wompwomp

So, in the spirit of intra-blog relations (all on the up-and-up of course), I want to poll my fellow Brocast writers and encourage them to respond in the comments section and/or in future posts. Here’s the question:

I hope all my fellow brosters will vote and comment, mostly so I can know whether you read anything that’s not written by you, ya goddamn narcissistic millenials. Also, our senior and most essentially octogenarian member, Tommy Moon, will no doubt have some fabulously incoherent input on the matter. The seven of you who read this and aren’t also writers should feel free to comment as well.

Okay so maybe not so short after all. #sorrynotsorry

Yours in Brosus’ name,

P.D. Mongtomery

About P.D. Montgomery

P.D. Montgomery writes a weekly column for BroCast News on all things pretentious. His interests include tweed, wool ties and Basil Hayden's - which is better than whatever bourbon you like.
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