Does Facebook encourage people to read?

12 Apr

Many people both young and old use Facebook. In fact, most use it more than once a day. From checking your newsfeed in your work break to checking your notifications before you go to sleep, we all do it. But does this continuous reading actually improve the literacy in the world or is it just now a social part of society? This article attempts to find whether popular phenomenon’s such as Facebook, Harry Potter and Twilight actually encourage more people to read more. Can I please note that this article is not intended to insult anyone. I know plenty of young people who read lots but this is purely to look at whether different types of modern culture encourage people who would perhaps choose not to read.

The first Harry Potter book was published in 1997, the first Twilight book being published more recently in 2005. With a difference of 8 years, you would think that the audiences would be very different, however from my experience I have found that the same people became fascinated and obsessed with both series. The fervour meant that the books were bought by millions and read over and over again. By the rereading of the series however means that the people who are in fact reading are only reading the same thing again and again and while they are reading more, it does not mean that their reading is branching out. However one could argue that they are in fact reading a book, a piece of literature material out of choice (one that isn’t compulsory from school or from college) that they wouldn’t perhaps be reading if they had not heard of it from its popularity. Fans may then also read more of those author’s books such as Stephenie Meyer’s, The Host ,which was read and viewed by millions of fans of Stephenie’s and Twilight’s, therefore more literature then being read.

However one could argue that as slang and lack of grammar is used so often on Facebook, it is not a fair literature trial. While Facebook involves quite a lot of reading, it is primarily a social resource and so a lot of ‘street speak’ is used. Although from my experience, I have seen plenty of people correcting others and saying that they need to use standard English. However this could just be the people I personally hang around with. Much of Facebook is also visual from photos of friends to memes. These sometimes use clever puns but mainly do not need much reading. As Facebook began as a way to rate pictures of women, this may once again be said to be an unfair example.

Plenty of older people also read Twilight and Harry Potter and also use Facebook. This then could show that these examples reach all generations to encourage them to read. However the same arguments detailed above could then be used.

The internet and websites like Facebook also mean that more people from other countries use English. I have cousins in Holland and friends in other countries that I have seen use English on Facebook. Not only does this promote English but as a social part, users are also able to use their own local dialects and language such as Welsh which friends can respond and converse with, advancing their written English (or other languages) also.

Texts are also another good example of literature in the modern world. Although they also carry the cons (slang) of Facebook, they are something that many people use daily. However speaking of the slang element, as texts are quite often a quick way to text friends, this may then mean that more slang will be used and less standard English will be. This can then be used as an argument that actually using written communication more than verbal does not count as using more literature.

Books made into films are also a good example of promoting literature as quite often people will go back to the first text and read how it differs from the film text because as most say, ‘the book is always better than the film.’ The films also encourage people to go back and read the book, regardless of whether you believe that this does not count as it is the same material. Another good thing is using film covers on books, promoting favourite actors and actresses, so that fans may pick up those books.

Whether or not you believe that Harry Potter or Twilight are good examples of fiction, you cannot deny that they have got a lot of people reading who otherwise would not have done so, especially many young people and in my opinion, this is a very good thing. As we have seen from Harry Potter to eight years later with Twilight, a new literature popular phenomenon is bound to capture each generation and hopefully keep coming and so we will anticipate which new book or book series will get audiences reading.

About the writer: Becky has just finished a degree in English and Creative Writing and is very happy with her 2:1. She is friendly, bubbly and just so happens to be the co-creator of Yellow Bunting. She hopes you enjoy it and that you get involved!

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