It isn't easy to admit this, but there's a problem I've been struggling with for years and it's having an effect on my life. At its worst, it causes me to neglect my children when I should be having heart-to-heart discussions with them about the day's pressing issues (if after-school specials are accurate reflections of reality) or to curse under my breath (if I'm lucky) when my wife calls me to another room in the house to deal with an urgent matter like recording a cartoon for my children or swearing at a computer.
I'm addicted to reading.
It all started innocently enough. "See Spot run," and so on. Before long, it was comic books, followed by Narnia and Lord of the Rings, on to science fiction and eventually Douglas Adams.
Even when otherwise occupied, I couldn't stop reading things, a habit that led me from the back of the cereal box (what the hell is riboflavin anyways?) to the newspaper at breakfast time, resulting in a knowledge of B.C. politics that was a little unseemly for an 11-year-old.
It served me well in university, sort of, though usually I went to the library intending to get books for research and came out with the collected works of Kurt Vonnegut instead.
All sorts of people out there probably approve of this addiction (teachers and parents especially) but I'm not so sure, as it's often assumed, that reading is actually superior to other forms of entertainment (except of course when it comes to reading newspapers). It's an excellent way of getting information, no doubt, but so is watching videos or listening to audio recordings and broadcasts.
Reading has been getting too soft a ride from society for far too long. When's the last time you read (or saw or heard) a news report on a study that found that excess reading led to obesity or increased attention spans not suited to the demands of the modern working world or, hell, eye problems? TV, on the other hand, causes no end of problems for children, problems, it's often suggested, linked to the act of TV viewing itself, as if just sitting around and eating Cheezies while staring at the wall would somehow be healthier. Presumably, in the last few hundred years when widespread literacy started to become desirable, there were concerns expressed about how this new fad would distract youth and adults from more urgent tasks like churning, ploughing, chimney sweeping and pulling tubs of coal through narrow mine shafts. I can't say for sure, however, because most of those concerns were never written down. Really, how often do you see a feature on TV about how bad TV is?
The real truth is this: all those studies about how things that aren't reading are bad share a few things in common. 1) They consist mainly of writing, and are mostly produced by nerds, who got that way by spending their formative years reading books instead of texting their friends or hitting projectiles with bats and similar implements. 2) Nobody reads them, not even journalists, who instead just ask the authors to summarize them and then write article based on that.
Consider yourself on notice, reading. I've got my eye on you. Ah, who'm I kidding? There's no more perfect leisure activity than reading. You can ignore the people around you all while impressing at least some of them with your supposed intelligence. Earning admiration for snobbishness? Try to top that TV.