The Internet Is Making Me Illiterate


There’s been a lot of talk lately on the book blogs about what the Internet is doing to our ability to read, and not surprisingly, no one wants to speak for everyone and sound like a luddite and say the end is near. But people are talking about their own experiences, and I have to say it’s pretty scary.

A couple months ago, David Ulin, book editor for the LA Times, wrote, “Sometime late last year — I don’t remember when, exactly — I noticed I was having trouble sitting down to read.”

The Elegant Variation chimed in a few days ago, “I have become conscious of how severely my reading has degraded, how deformed my capacity for sustained focus has become.”

And at CAAF:  “[While reading,] my brain was roving around just as much as my gaze was: mentally rummaging in the kitchen cupboards (chips?), wondering if I had any new email (probably not), and brooding on my petty jealousies and everyday activities (endless).”

I agree with all of them. After just a few hours of web time, I lose the ability to communicate verbally and read anything written before 1985.  On that note, I’m off to go sit in the park now to try to finish a book. We’ll see.

Seth Fischer's writing has appeared in Best Sex Writing 2013, Buzzfeed, PankGuernica, Lunch Ticket, Gertrude, and elsewhere. His Rumpus piece "Notes from a Unicorn" was listed as a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2013. He will be a 2014 Lambda Literary Emerging Voicing Fellow and was a 2013 Jentel Arts Residency Program Fellow. He also teaches at Antioch University Los Angeles and Writing Workshops Los Angeles. Find more writing of his writing at, or reach him @sethfischer. More from this author →