I have a problem! And if you are anything like me, so do you. You read less and less books, and surf more and more on social media and the Internet.
Take our bookshelves at home. I am proud of our over 4,000 books. No, I have not read all of them, but certainly a majority.
I try to keep up with modern literature of many different genres, much like I enjoy reading classics, novels, history, philosophy, sport, biographies, international relations, and science.
I am still able to keep up a pace of approximately one book every two weeks, but I feel that this is not enough. I crave for more. Many of the books that I read give me food for thought for this column, and if you fly Finnair regularly you will have seen references to them.
But, here is the thing. My reading is becoming more sporadic. I spend too much time surfing around on my iPad and smartphone. I click from subject to subject, check my Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. Not to speak of my e-mail and text messages.
Modern communication channels are training my brain to read a paragraph or two and then move on to the next thing. Just clicking away. While writing this column I was texting with a friend and checked my social medias at least five times.
Neuroscientists have explained this phenomenon. We learn something new quickly and get a dopamine rush from it. A study with rats show that they prefer a dopamine fix over food and sex. We humans get the rush from e-mails and social media. Scary, but true.
Interestingly enough, studies show that surfing the web makes you more tired than intensive deep reading. Focusing hard for an hour is good for you and lack of time is just a poor excuse for not reading.
Essayist Charles Chu has calculated that we read about 400 words per minute. According to Chu it would take 420 hours to read about 200 books. That is a tad over one hour per day. Now I spend at least one hour exercising a day. And I probably spend more than that on social media or watching TV.
So, how about if we do something about it, together? I will try to implement a 1+1+1 hour rule for myself. That is, I will try to set aside one hour for reading books, one hour for exercising, and one hour for surfing social media per day.
My experiment begins on the first of September and ends exactly one year later. I will keep careful track of what I read and my aim will be to read 100 books. I have had an exercise journal since 2007, so nothing new there. Regulating social media might be a bit more difficult, but I will try.
Feel free to join me. I will post an update once a month on facebook.com/alexanderstubb and wrap it all up in a column a year from now.
Happy reading, happy exercising, and happy surfing.