We live in the 21st century, a century of technology, speed, practicability, a century in which survival is important more than ever.
Well, in this century are living the millennials, people born during 80s-00s. These are people who grew up during the technological revolution, people who marked the end of the communist era. And it is said that millennials, or Y generation as it is also called, does not read any more. But why is that? Is it really true, or is it just another generation conflict from the „when I was young” category?
Well the truth is somewhere in the middle. Indeed Y generation does not read a lot, but we cannot generalize. There are also people who enjoy spending time reading.
First of all, let’s analyze the generations conflict. Every two generations were in conflict since ever. Every time the younger generation was thought to be more irresponsible then the older one. But all depends on context. When our parents were young, communism was still alive. People had to fight for a loaf of bread, the freedom to speak was limited, and lots of people were still working on the field. They had lots of money but they didn’t have what to buy with it. Political freedom was nonexistent and people had to watch their mouth. In this context, there was this fighting for living, for eating, for being free. They are used to lacking and being devoted to one single work place. TV was not set yet, at least not as we know it today. Only a few shows and some movies were to be seen. Lacking some other activities, they were reading. Magazines, books, each with their preferences. But there were not as many as they say. There were few people who had finished a faculty, and few that have even finished high school. Many of them were only having four or eight classes in the most happy case. But there were some who didn’t even went to school. And as goods were not as free as they are now, they had to work on the field to eat. And also there was little information over the population, so they could not know how many people were reading or not. So if say my mother was reading, she cannot say that today’s generation does not read as the previous one was doing it because simply she doesn’t know.
On the opposite side, today’s generation is educated, many of them go to school, although there are still alliterate persons. They go to school, high-school, university studies, and they all have access to all sort of information. The society offers all sort of fun that each one wants to try. Let’s face that sometimes is more fun to go to laser tag with friends than staying at home and reading a book. Internet has developed so much, games have evolved to look almost like real, virtual reality etc. Now people are different. So young men and women who are most inclined to the scientific part are to use more the computer and games than the ones who are inclined towards literature. They are taught that they should study and have good grades on all school subjects and they feel pressed. And when you feel pressed you are less in a mood to study then to make your homework. And what can you do? Well open the PC. It is very close to you and is smiling so nicely. On the other hand, our parents haven’t studied, but they expect for us to do it. So they try to give an example that they are not. We, children, millennials, don’t understand why our parents are asking something they themselves didn’t do. So we become reluctant.
Ok so now let’s analyze teaching. Today’s teaching is based on old techniques that were available during the 70’s, 80’s. Stuffed books are given to the students to learn formulas, theorems, and stuff with no apparent applicability are put into one’s head. It’s no use to tell me than 1+1 is 2 if you don’t tell me how can I use this information. No use to tell me that hydrogen and oxygen creates water if you don’t tell me that I can drink the water. Of course this are extreme examples just for making a point. Today, children, teenagers, students always try to search the applicability. They are curious and try to understand. If you put in one’s head two books without explaining what can he do with the data, how can he transform the data into information and unify the puzzle pieces, he will memorize all the book like a parrot and forget every single word in that book after the first exam. Teachers no longer inspire students to read. They don’t wake up the passion in them.
And now last but not least, we live in a society which only guides us through technology. As an accountant you need to use software like SAP, ACCESS, Excel and some other tools. As a programmer you need to know most probably PL/SQL, My SQL, Java, PHP, Java Script, Python and many other. As a marketer you need to know web design: HTML, CSS, Java Script, Adope Flash Player and god knows what else. As you can see, almost any job requires technology nowadays. So people are somehow pushed towards this fact.
I am part pf the millennials generation two, but I like reading, so I am sort of inclined of defending both sides. But as I live in today’s society, I can only be objective and admit that, even though I had the luck to have a father ho has read a lot and a teacher who inspired me to love literature, this does not mean that everybody has had the same luck as I did.
And now you tell me, are millennials people who don’t like and don’t want reading when everything encourages them to do this, or is it about social context?
Of course this article is based on Romanian social context and on personal opinion. I cannot express my opinion towards other countries/continents cause I don’t know. I will leave specialists decide the general behavior worldwide.