The New Yorker Review: “Everything Bad I Good for You”

I have not yet read this and the review is old, but I read it in a doctor’s office (of course) and I am intrigued. Read the review and let me know if you are going to read the book. (I have ordered it.) Or if you have read it, give us your impressions. A quote from the review (I am not sure why random letters are omitted, but you get the gist):

It doesn’t seem right, of course, that watching “24” or playing a video game could be a important cognitively as reading a book. Isn’ the extraordinary success of the “Harry Potter novels better news for the culture than the equivalent success of “Grand Theft Auto III” Johnson’s response is to imagine what cultural critics might have said had video games been invented hundreds of years ago, and onl recently had something called the book been marketed aggressively to children:

Reading books chronically understimulates the senses. Unlike the longstanding tradition of gameplaying—which engages the child in a vivid, three-dimensional world filled with moving images and musical sound-scapes, navigated and controlled with complex muscular movements—books are simply a barren string of words on the page….

Books are also tragically isolating. While games have for many years engaged the young in complex social relationships with their peers, building and exploring worlds together, books force the child to sequester him or herself in a quiet space, shut off from interaction with other children. . . .

But perhaps the most dangerous property of these books is the fact that they follow a fixed linear path. You can’t control their narratives in any fashion—you simply sit back and have the story dictated to you. . . . This risks instilling a general passivity in our children, making them feel as though they’re powerless to change their circumstances. Reading is not an active, participatory process; it’s a submissive one.

He’s joking, of course, but only in part.

I think he has a point…

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