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So, I was on Twitter one morning when I stumbled upon some food for thought:
Linguistically, “reading” here covers a broad range of narrative content consumed and interpreted. The OP and several people in the thread go on to cite studies suggesting the greatest distinction between reading and the above listed media comes down to spelling. I’m not going to investigate how true this is. I do think it’s an interesting idea.
What came to my mind was how television, which isn’t listed on this Twitter post, compares to these other forms of reading. There are studies that suggest TV isn’t so great for socialization in children. It also enlarges the brain’s frontal lobe, which is known to impede verbal reasoning and thickens regions associated with arousal and anger. Theories abound about why these effects take place, but the easy answer for most scholars is that television is a passive experience. Traditional reading prevents cognitive decline, reduces stress, and increases neural pathway connectivity.
I must admit that I consume a lot of media in the form of video games and cartoons. Considering how important traditional reading is for language interpretation, I know I should read more than I do. Despite knowing the shortcomings of animation in aiding brain development, however, I’ll say a lot of my creative ideas are rooted in that medium. So, has TV made me a worse or better writer? Was my potential for language comprehension stunted because of Dexter’s Laboratory and Angry Beavers? Can reading undo all that damage, or does it simply create an equilibrium?
I knew a guy in college who said he did brain teasers and other puzzle games to counteract the negative effects of marijuana. Have I become that dude?