Monday, July 10, 2006

Why reading books is better than watching TV

I don't believe people when they say "wala kasi akong oras magbasa e." I guess, it's because for me, reading is not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle. When it is an integral part of your life, you don't have to find time for it, it's just there by default.

I have been attached (physically and all the 'llys') to books for as long as I can remember. I don't eat alone without reading, sometimes I even read while cooking. I can't sleep without reading first and I wouldn't dare travel without bringing a book (I brought a book on my 'trip' to Ateneo and UPD last friday).

So it saddens me that reading is fast becoming obsolete. Resulting to equally deteriorating skills of critical thinking and analysis. Reading does not only give you new information, it also teaches you to contextualize, read between the lines and make analogies. I believe the reason why Filipino kids are not as smart as the rest of Asia is because all they do is watch TV for hours.

Too much TV, I think, dulls the brain. You don't have to think that much, everything is fed to you. I am not anti-TV. I watch a lot of TV. My life would not be complete without Lost, CSI, Gilmore Girls, Hallmark Channel, NGC, Discovery Chanel and the Lifestyle Network. But I still think that books are the best because:

1. Books are portable. You can bring them anywhere - in the loo, in a restaurant, in any kind of transportation be it for land, air or sea, and you can even bing it to class and hide it under your desk while you turn the pages.

2. Books have infinite reruns - until it dilapidates. You can read a book for as many times as you want to or for as long as it takes for you to get it.

3. You can smell books. That's enough reason for me. =P

4. Books allow you to imagine. Unlike in TV, where you can see everything, reading gives you the license to imagine a character's physical appearance or facial expression. For all the cinematographic excellence in LOTR, Narnia(TCON) and Dune movies, I believe the Middle Earth, Narnia and Arakkis looks so much better in my imagination.

5. Books gives you a venue for cross-examination and verification. Books are more 'credible' in the sense that it must be something worthwhile for it to be published (discounting the icky romances). The process of publishing a book is intricate and complicated. And you know that blood, sweat and tears went into it. Even if it's a work of fiction, the author must attain some kind of authority and credibility.

On the other hand, in TV you can just find some pretty girls who look great in bikinis, dump them in an island with guys who will go gaga over them, make up some crazy rules and you have reality TV that's not so real.

6. You can stop whenever you want to. You can put down a book in case you need to pee, wash the dishes or do the laundry. You don't have to wait for the commercials. And you can get back on it whenever you want. Unlike with TV, you can't 'pause and play' it so you schedule your life around your favorite shows. The TV controls you whereas you control the book.

7. Reading is private. It is between your mind, the book and the words. No one can tell you how to 'read' something unless you allow them to. People who read over your shoulder belong to another category - all you have to do is slug them or blow their ears off, haha joke =P But watching TV is a collective and public activity. Sometimes, you have to watch with the most annoying people and they affect how you watch and understand the show.

8. Words come alive in your brain. Your reading of a text is affected by your perspective and experience. The Chronicles of Narnia (TCON) was just a fantastic story when I was nine but now it is a reflection of a spiritual journey. I related to Anne of Green Gables in a different way when I was twelve and in a more profound way now that I'm turning twenty.

9. Reading makes people think you're smart. Watching TV lumps you in the 'just like everyone else' category.

10. Books carry a history - where and when did you buy it, where did you read it, how long did it take for you to finish it, what events occurred in your life when you were reading it, with whom did you discuss it with, who borrowed it, what food or drink did you spill on it and I can go on and on. Books - the ones I own - hold a special place in my heart.

And lastly but absolutely and definitely not the last - God has chosen to reveal himself through the written word. The Bible is our main source of communication with God. If you want to have a relationship with Him, you better get in the habit of reading. That would be enough reason for me =P


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