Why books and smartphone rarely go along

During Slow Reading Book Club meeting on Sunday at Kineruku (no one came besides me and V, by the way), there was this (staged) interview near our table.

I could tell that these guys were college students doing their filmography homework or something. But there’s also possibility that they were from local film community doing a documentary about local bookstore or, yeah, something. Eh, whatever (Seriously, why did I care so much about who they were?).

Anyway, they were loud so I couldn’t help but eavesdropping and the following is the excerpt from the interview that really hooks me.

Interviewer: I notice that you’re by yourself but who are you usually coming with?

Interviewee: I usually come with friends but it’s better to come here alone so that you can focus on your reading. With company, you’ll end up chatting.

I resisted the urge to come to their table and tell the interviewee that: “well, that’s not entirely true, lady.”

For some reason, I stayed put. However, my mind started racing and doing its thing which, as you can see, later brought us to this post.

Regarding the lady’s statement, I think it depends on who you’re coming with. If your company is chatty type of a person, then reading is highly unlikely. While I agree with the lady that it’s better to go solo, in the case of grabbing a company to read with, you have to choose wisely (V has this chatty quality in her which sometimes distracts me, but she’s my girlfriend, so…).

And if you really want to read alone, if you really want to focus on the book that you’re reading, not only do you have to ditch that chatty friend of yours, but also your smartphone.

Because, as matter of fact, with smartphone we’re never really alone.

I think smartphones can be as distracting as any blabbermouth persons. They produce the flood of notifications and it gets worse given that most of us have this deep, unbearable impulse to constantly check our phones so we know what happened to our friends on social media in, what, past 10 minutes?

At Kineruku, there were also these two women at the table next to ours. They brought books from the shelves with them. For a couple of minutes, I saw them reading the books. But the next moment I took a glance at them, they already ended up busy with their phones!

Don’t get me wrong, though. I think smartphone and other mobile devices are great. They are useful in so many ways. It’s true that, in the case of reading, smartphones can help us take notes or provide the access to dictionary or additional information. But more often than not, we end up scrolling the feeds, timelines, etc. We’re soooooooooo attached, if not addicted, to that tiny glowing screen we hold in our hands that we feel anxious and agitated whenever we’re separated from it, even when we’re in the middle of doing things like reading (even during movies!).

Okay, maybe that’s just me. But STILL, that’s awful, don’t you think?

So, in order to keep the distraction at bay, I usually turn off the Internet connection or activate the airplane mode on my smartphone or shut it down altogether. I bring a note and a pen in case there are things I want to look up in the dictionary or the Internet. But I’ll do it later. I believe that everything can wait.

I know that smartphone is not the only distraction but it’s one of the things that we can actually control (besides ourselves). Just because the damn phone is smart, doesn’t mean it can outsmart us. They are not designed to do just that after all.


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Citra Saraswati

I'm a bit into analog photography.

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