i used to read
I used to read. A lot.
I began with graphic novels when I was four, and it escalated quickly. I was reading Geronimo Stilton, the WINX Saga, and novellas by seven. I remember going into the children’s section at our local library close to where my family lived at the time and realising I had read literally every single book there. I moved onto the young adults section, and by twelve I was reading at a collegiate level. My favourite genre grew to be mystery; Agatha Christie, Nancy Drew… and then I read a novel about the life of Marie Antoinette, and I was hooked. History biographies from the 1700-1800s became my obsession. I had already loved the fashion from those eras since I was nine- and so reading about the people that lived during the times gave me newfound joy.
Nothing could stop me from reading. I read books like they were air. I inhaled them. I could read a 1,000+ page Shakespeare: The Complete Works in less than two days. A trip to the library? Oh, let me bring my suitcase. I would take our 250 books and read half of them in in less than a week.
Reading was my greatest experience. It removed me from the outside world, and put me neatly inside my imagination.
When I was thirteen, I received my grandmother’s old phone. It changed everything. I have an extra fifteen minutes? Let’s play on an irrelevant app. An early evening in bed? Let’s watch videos on YouTube.
Reading rapidly lost its magical hold on me, and I don’t think I read a single interesting book for a year. Everything revolved around the little iPhone 6. My whole thought process, my emotions, my style. I saved the draft of the 24,000 word novella I was writing and I didn’t open it for two years.
All things shiny lose their brightness eventually.
Five months ago I realised that I hadn’t read a book in over a year and a half, and I was appalled. How could I have forgotten about something that had brought me so much joy? When was the last time I had read anything? I could remember the last time I had been on my phone; seconds ago. I felt disappointed I myself for being so heavily influenced by a chunk of technology. I remembered how much I had adored reading as a child , and the realms it took me to. I remembered how I had read about historical figures, and how I had longed for time travel to be a thing in hopes that I could meet them. I understood why my mother had resisted the idea of me having a phone for as long as she did.
Although I run my music and business from it, my phone has lost a large portion of the original luster I had been attracted to two years ago. Occasionally I openly resent having social media. It is so chaotic and it tires me to stay up to date with everything that is going on in the world.
I recently read a book. It was sent to me by an acquaintance upon his recommendation, and it was the first time in a while that I had sat down with the intention to just read. Needless to say, I finished the book in two hours. I re-read it. I sent it back to the acquaintance, and realised how grounded I felt.
I have ultimately come to know how addicting technology really is, and how easily I have missed parts of life simply because I was stuck staring at a screen. I’m peeling my eyes away to enjoy these fleeting moments; and I encourage you to do so too.
In conclusion, I am disgusted with my lack of awareness that I had for so long. I am striving to return to my roots. I ask you to do the same. Ask any grandparent or millennial; they’ll insist days were better when you had your eyes set on real life, and not on whatever was on your piece of technology.
Sometimes, old people do know better.
Sometimes, we need to be reminded of where we started.