Novels demand many things of readers, but the most obvious is attention. I can do any number of other activities while watching a TV show or listening to music, and I can carry on a conversation with a friend while at an art gallery, but reading a novel demands putting everything else aside. To read a book is to devote oneself to the book. Novels always traffic in empathy, always bring “the other” closer, always ask us to transcend our perspectives, but isn’t that attention, itself, a generous act? Generous toward ourselves?
The problem with accepting – with preferring – diminished substitutes is that, over time, we too become diminished substitutes. People who become used to saying little become used to feeling little. Or just feeling what’s been designed and sold to us to feel.
-Jonathan Safran Foer ‘Technology is diminishing us‘ The Guardian