Social media makes people look at smartphones daily and regularly. They are doing one or more of the following: searching and reading the information, learning, watching a video, chatting, gossiping and spreading quality or fake information. One must read to do any of the listed on the smartphone and on a daily basis.
Recent world culture score index shows that Nigeria is one of the countries with low reading culture. But one wonders if Nigerians really lack reading culture when on a visit to the social media, there are thousands of post with thousands and hundreds of likes and comments, and some above a million views. Could they be scroll and pass? But to scroll and pass also involves reading to concentrate on an interesting post. These go on every day and yearly. It has become a habit to many and they are constantly on WhatsApp messenger and the related chatting all day. Chatting all day involves reading to be able to respond appropriately, but not many read post with long content.
Several thoughts creeping into one’s mind seek to know if daily engagement in social media activities could be regarded as having a reading culture. If it is to be reading culture, then the world culture score index on Nigerians and the old claim of hiding information on the pages of a book for Nigerians would become untrue since the advent of social media.
Reading culture is the quality habit of passionate regular reading of books and informative materials usually within a measurable period of hours per day. It is an acquired skill that can be improved through regular practice. It is only constant quality reading that can improve reading culture. All e-learnings targeted at the enhancement of knowledge are part of reading culture activities. However, reading to seek literature for research is not a reading culture activity.
Therefore reading culture is the habit of daily or regular reading of quality books and informative materials for the sole purpose of quality learning and knowledge. The aimless and reckless constant search for fun on social media does not guarantee quality learning and knowledge. They are mostly readings for the wrong reasons and are not in tandem with or corroborates the definition above. Therefore Social Media has not increased reading culture in Nigeria. Students read-only recommended books to pass examinations, and above 90% non-students don’t bother reading, while a few read religious materials and motivational book on how to acquire wealth.
Why Develop Reading Culture?
Studies have shown that reading and intelligence interact. The ability to analyse, understand issues and solve problems are developed through intensive reading. Therefore reading culture is a way to mental health that enhances emotional intelligence. Further, it helps self-awareness and mental alertness, empathy, social skills and tolerance. It helps in overall human development.