People share the written word like passing dishes at potluck meals (remember those?). Try this…no this…taste this one…it’s to die for. We quickly forward articles using hyperlinks. We make book recommendations on Facebook or via Twitter. Poems are posted with photos on Pinterest, Instagram or by text. Once, for my birthday, I asked my coworkers for book and blog recommendations and have yet to make it through that list.
I’m glad for so much sharing; it exposes me to so much more than I otherwise would see and expands my perspectives. But all this instant sharing is a bit overwhelming, too. Because we can now can send links and titles so quickly, we offer suggestions freely and without significant discernment. As a result, the rate of giving far exceeds the ability to receive.
The other day, I read aloud to my husband a lengthy article profiling a renegade personality. I thought the piece would be interesting and wanted to share it with him so we could talk about it afterward. I was struck by how long it had been since I’ve read aloud with another adult. I enjoyed actively experiencing good writing together.
Remember the daily ritual of reading the newspaper over breakfast or after dinner and saying, “listen to this…”? I loved reading books aloud with my children when they were young and talking about the last chapter in the car on the way to school. If everyone had read them independently, we couldn’t have anticipated together what would happen next.
Yes, reading aloud is slower. And, listening to someone read requires more attention. But this type of shared experience is a rich opportunity to connect over ideas, stories or life themes in a way that is hard to duplicate with hyperlinks. Let’s bring back the art of reading aloud and linger over conversations for a change of pace.