Society Debate: Is Social Media retarding Rwanda’s Reading Culture?

It is addictive                                                                          Before we were blessed (and cursed) with social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and Myspace, the internet was basically used for interchanging emails, visiting favorite websites and most importantly, reading the information it provides on a variety of topics.

It is addictive

Before we were blessed (and cursed) with social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and Myspace, the internet was basically used for interchanging emails, visiting favorite websites and most importantly, reading the information it provides on a variety of topics.

As technology advancements hit both the developed and the developing world, social media became the order of the day, particularly among the youth, whose life at this stage is scientifically best adapted to the fast amassing of knowledge through excessive reading.

But instead of reading, young men and women engage in time wasting activities like tweeting and facebooking, uploading pictures for strangers, and engaging in new forms of twisted sexualities like “sexting” and phone sex. As a matter of fact, parents would be dumbstruck if they stealthily read the inbox messages of some of these young lads.

The reading culture was already facing pressure from the common desktops and, the now almost cheap laptops. However, it was further smothered by the introduction of the Blackberry and similar gadgets.

Now, you don’t have to own a computer, you can still participate on Facebook via your mobile phone from anywhere and at anytime.

Book libraries are getting less visitors by the day as the books get soiled, group discussions are shorter all because of people’s desire for juicy news from their friends. Unfortunately for them, exams are only a week away and before they know it, panic becomes the order of the day.

They suddenly start reading excessively without sleep and when they fail their exams, they blame it on their lecturers or failure to get enough time to read and any excuse that crosses their minds, forgetting that it was themselves that wasted valuable time.

Here is the dilemma; addiction of any sort is not encouraged in any society. But for the first time in the history of humanity, we are getting a widely accepted tool of addiction in the form of social media.

Its regulation is already being termed as a form of oppression. Although that is right, the culture of settling down to read a book is slowly fading out due to the necessary evil.

The reading culture must be reinvented; they say that “Reading is to the brain what exercise is to the body”. Instead of chatting or web-caming, it is advisable for our future leaders to go back to the basics and read everything that crosses their path.

I am saying this from my own experience. Every time I used to get onto the internet to study my favourite topics, or read the news, I easily yielded to the temptation to open a Facebook or Twitter page. Although I would get nice links to some of the stuff I enjoy reading, the urge to converse with my friends was always stronger.

From that I realized, if I don’t read an online book in peace without the interruption of buzzes from people online, then there is no way I would ever find that book good enough to follow up and successfully finish it.

This is the same case with many people I have interfaced with; some of them, in a bid to save their reading habits, have decided to close their social media lives and only come back when they need it.

The internet is a brilliant source of information and should never be underutilized by the simple addiction to social media.

mugishaivan@yahoo.com
@RushAfrican on Twitter

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