COVER STORY

Death of the Reader

Storizen Magazine - - Contents - - Mukesh Ri­jh­wani

Dear

Reader, THANK YOU for tak­ing time out and stop­ping by. You know what; you’re go­ing to end up be­ing in one of the few smart peo­ple that walked on this planet. As per Mi­crosoft’s re­cent study, “Hu­mans now have an at­ten­tion span shorter than that of a Gold­fish”. The at­ten­tion span of a gold­fish is 9 sec­onds and that of a human is 8 sec­onds. With great be­lief, I de­clare that by the end of the 21st cen­tury, my dear reader, your brain will be much more valu­able and be much sought af­ter. The sci­en­tist would in­vest their hard-earned money to bid for your brain be­cause of the lines in your gray matters. Not to men­tion, the DNA

“Hu­mans now have an at­ten­tion span shorter than that of a Gold­fish”.

strands that are re­spon­si­ble for your reg­u­lar reading habits will leave a long trail. Your lin­eage, when select­ing a part­ner, will have a mas­sive pool of peo­ple to choose from. You might say, thanks, that’s flat­ter­ing. All I do is read. Yes, you’re cor­rect. You just read. With the “just reading”, you get a break from this bro­ken world. With the “just reading”, you learn and hence sharpen your mind. With “just reading” you feel which as­serts your in­di­vid­u­al­ity as a human be­ing. Most im­por­tantly, you in­vest time and at­ten­tion in your­self. Talk­ing about time, I just have one line that is stuck with me from a very young age from the movie Tezaab - “Time hota nahin hai, nikal na padta hai”. (PS: To trans­late, head over to Google.) Com­ing to the at­ten­tion span, you see you’re al­ready ahead in the race, you have been reading for more than 16 sec­onds now. It is not a co­in­ci­dence, that ‘skip ad’ but­ton in YouTube video is vis­i­ble af­ter 5 sec­onds (much lesser than a human’sat­ten­tion span). The tech­nol­ogy giants like Face­book, Twit­ter, and Net­flix spend mil­lions of dol­lars hir­ing PhDs to as­sist them in cap­tur­ing an in­di­vid­ual’s at­ten­tion. Auto-play is one such in­ven­tion. It is de­signed beau­ti­fully to keep us en­gaged for

“Time hota nahin hai, nikal na padta hai”. (PS: To trans­late, head over to Google.)

Google has re­cently an­nounced ‘Dig­i­tal

Well­be­ing’.

(Not heard - Go Google

it)

sev­eral hours. If you’ve used any of th­ese or other plat­forms, you know what I am talk­ing about. Ev­ery day is a big war to get your at­ten­tion back from th­ese plat­forms to the un­fin­ished tasks like call­ing your mom, writ­ing that story or nar­rat­ing a bed­time story to your kid. Wait, am not pre­dict­ing dooms­day here, some of the com­pa­nies have started tak­ing the step in this di­rec­tion, lead­ing the front is Google. Google has re­cently an­nounced ‘Dig­i­tal Well­be­ing’.

(Not heard - Go Google it) A few years ago, I read a study con­ducted in the US that on an av­er­age a book is read only for the first 17 pages. Well hang on a minute, what does that mean? It means that an au­thor spends few years think­ing about the idea for the book then spends an av­er­age of 2 years writ­ing the book.

The book got re­jec­tions from, on an av­er­age, 17 pub­lish­ers. Fi­nally, the book finds its pub­lisher. And only af­ter 17 months, on an av­er­age, of its com­ple­tion it gets pub­lished. The way pub­lish­ing in­dus­try works, an au­thor gets the first cheque only af­ter 3-6 months. To sum­ma­rize that, it takes, on an av­er­age of 4 years, from the mo­ment an au­thor sits down to write the first al­pha­bet and re­ceiv­ing a cheque. You might say, that’s not bad con­sid­er­ing all an au­thor has to do is sit down on the table and write. Naw, my dear read friend, that’s pre­cisely is the tough­est part. Let me de­scribe one of an in­stance from my writ­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Few years back, I had to write a 1000-word story for an on­line magazine. For the unini­ti­ated, 1000 words mean 2 pages of a book. With the big soft­ware re­lease at work, I spent most of my wak­ing mo­ments in of­fice. At home, I just showed up to shower and sleep. With just 2 days for sub­mis­sion, I fi­nally was done with the soft­ware re­lease. Out of those 2 days, I slept off the first day to catch up on the sleep I missed. The fi­nal day I got up with the dream to write that per­fect story to win the award for the sto­ry­teller for the year. It was Sun­day; wifey cooked the yummy hot idlis for break­fast, a per­fect start for the day. As soon as I opened my com­puter to write my wifey asked me, ‘Did you bring the gift for the Kumar’s, we’re go­ing to their place for lunch to­day. I hope you re­mem­ber’. I replied, think­ing on my toes, ‘I will go now and select one with the cool head’. By the time I came back with the gift, it was time to get ready and leave, be­cause they stayed on the op­po­site side of the city. It took us about 1.5 hours with a Sun­day traf­fic. By the time we fin­ished lunch and came back home it was 6 in the even­ing. I opened the lap­top, my wifey re­quested, ‘Can you take

As soon as I opened my com­puter to write my wifey asked me, ‘Did you bring the gift for the Kumar’s, we’re go­ing to their place for lunch to­day. I hope

you re­mem­ber’. I replied, think­ing on my toes, ‘I will go now and select one with the

cool head’.

girls whole and bed, o'clock. to You pages, did I com­puter, switched com­plete think once might out it even­ing was not I to the just the I on say, a play?’. night felt the same. big kids had my passed 2 tired. story. deal. 10 hours, 2 went The When hours I I by to 2 went In­dian keep next min­utes, 2 to me tea hours. make I fresh was for Af­ter my­self a for back cup the 15 of at to the vague but desk. couldn’t sto­ries I had de­cide in cou­ple my which head of one min­utes. for the The next clock 15 was tick­ing, min­utes and to the it was dead­line. just 90 At re­al­ized that mo­ment, it was my I Dad’s birth­day. Im­me­di­ately, I di­aled and spoke to him for few min­utes. By the time, I came to my desk; it was just close to an hour left.

You might say, that’s not bad con­sid­er­ing all an au­thor has to do is sit down on the table and write. Naw, my dear read friend, that’s pre­cisely is the tough­est part.

To wanted have to ex­treme put on my fo­cus, I

head­phones. I headed to

YouTube and se­lected

the songs that I wished

to lis­ten while I wrote. I

fi­nally, put my first word

on the fresh Mi­crosoft

word doc­u­ment and

ti­tled it as ‘Win­ning

Story’, to keep my spir­its

up. Within few min­utes

of my writ­ing, I re­al­ized

this story is not com­ing

out well. With doubts all

over my brain cells, like

a plague, I chucked the

draft. With un­der 30

min­utes, I started writ­ing

on the other story. With­out think­ing of the whole wide world, I punched on the key­boards fran­ti­cally. I com­pleted the story with im­pend­ing 10 min­utes. I had to edit the story gram­mat­i­cally and­check on the word count. With 2 min­utes remaining, I wrapped up the story in the best way pos­si­ble ad­her­ing to the guide­lines and hit the send but­ton. I went to bed sat­is­fied, that I com­pleted the task. The next morn­ing, I woke up with a call from the On­line Magazine Edi­tor, she praised me for the won­der­ful story and ex­pressed that it is the best story she has read in a while how­ever I am sorry to say, noth­ing of that sort hap­pened, in fact, the story didn’t even got pub­lished in the on­line

magazine. I was po­litely re­fused on the grounds of ‘too many good en­tries and they had lim­ited space’. Need­less to say, I was dev­as­tated be­cause I lit­er­ally spent the cog­ni­tive power for the whole day, wor­ry­ing about get­ting the story out when I should have en­joyed the time with my fam­ily and friends. Just for a 2-page story. Imag­ine, an au­thor, who has to face the sim­i­lar chal­lenges day in and day out to write a full 300-page novel. While writ­ing, the au­thor has to keep the fact in mind, that more than 50% of the read­ers, who bought the book with their hard earned money, will not read it be­yond the first 17 pages. To add to this mix, con­sider the likes of IPL, Net­flix series, and In­dian Idol, they’re com­pet­ing for the same re­sources - Your time and at­ten­tion.

So, the ques­tion re­mains, why one should make time to

read? Since you’ve read this far, I am sure you have many rea­sons why you are an avid reader. And also, you wished that ev­ery­one on this planet do the same. I can give you one rea­son, if there are no read­ers (sorry reading on FB or a news­pa­per doesn’t count one as the reader), there won’t be writ­ers. With no writ­ers, we won’t have sto­ries. With no sto­ries, we won’t have in­ter­est­ing movies to watch or in­ter­est­ing books to read. So, the only ques­tion now re­mains is, when to read? The clue to an­swer­ing this ques­tion is in another one - When

not to read?

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