"I haven't watched TV in a couple of years."

This is a post by Diego Basch (found via Passive Voice) musing about how getting a Kindle a few years ago has changed his habits--primarily his reading habits, but as the above quote shows, it's affecting his other media consumption habits as well. He's not one of these people who is too good to watch television, it's just that he's got this really handy device (more than one, actually) with all these books on it, so why wouldn't he read instead?

I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, at which point there was a lot of gnashing of the teeth over the decline of the written word. People didn't read, they watched television. They also didn't write, they made phone calls.

The concern was that people were being neurologically re-programmed so that eventually they wouldn't be able to read and write at all, and that would be the end of civilization (the fact that humankind managed somehow to move from complete illiteracy to reading and writing in the first place was ignored). It turns out that, yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as neuroplasticity, and the brain that can rewire itself around major physical damage can also manage to re-learn the habits of reading and writing. Indeed, nowadays one challenge facing telecommunications companies is that no one makes voice calls any more; we just text and e-mail and use Facebook.

So why did we go from writing letters to making phone calls to writing texts/e-mails/posts? The short answer is convenience. Technological changes make it more convenient to call people, and then they made it more convenient to e-mail/text/Facebook.

E-books are convenient--they're cheap and they're easy. Now instead of turning on a TV, a person can fire up their little device and read just as easily (if not more easily--try finding a TV showing something you want to watch during the moments when your spouse is using the bathroom at a restaurant).

If you still want to feel really badly about humanity--and who am I to judge?--you can call this laziness and take heart in the fact that human nature is consistently bedeviled by the sin of Sloth. That way you can continue to flagellate yourself, which I'm sure is a relief to certain people.