Studies show reading isn't the popular pastime it once was, and why should it be? There's every other kind of portable and stationary stimulation to fill its spot. Problem is, few of those alternatives train people to be as active intellectually as books do. And you don't need to be a Marxist, or a Luddite or some forward-thinking science fiction writer, and you needn't have seen "The Matrix" or "The Terminator" or any other example of technology run amok to worry at the dangers of intellectual complacency. It's just not a good idea to be such and such a way, in terms of blah, blah, blah. Because it's borrring . . .
Ech! Fell into a techno-trap, as these things will cause.
Ok, but honestly, I agree with those who've noted technology does hamper concentration, on being able to focus. We shouldn't lose touch with our ability to focus, or highway safety might be reduced to something lower than where it's at, which is a low place, I've judged.
So all of that leads to my thinking about "Lord of the Flies" -- William Golding's classic novel from the mid-1950s -- which wonders how a collection of English boys, ham-fisted together by chance and a crash landing, would fare without adult intervention on an island surrounded pretty exclusively by water, lots of water. The answer is, overall, not very well. Badly, you might argue. Most everyone has read this novel if the everyone in question has been to high school in the United States. Like most high school novels it's been drilled and mined for its symbolic worth to the point of, ostensibly, being depleted completely.
So why am I wasting my time talking about it? Because despite all of that it manages to be a mesmerizing tale, one that forces students to decide fundamental philosophical things about the nature of humankind. Are we inherently good or bad? Is it a societal construct? I think it's the atavistic nature of the boy's circumstances. As interesting as reads like "Of Mice and Men" and "The Great Gatsby" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" are, they don't have the staying power of a novel like "Lord of the Flies." Because students, nay people, should always wonder about the true nature of humanity, if only to be better than or live up to that true nature.
As the greatest bit of symbolism in that story, the death of Piggy and the destruction of the conch shell, once knowledge and infrastructure are lost it's hard to reclaim them.
Don't crush the voice of reason, or destroy a rational order.