Zia Hassan

Low Quality Literature

+++ title = “07” date = 2019 +++

We have an abundance of low quality literature in our culture.

It used to be that when you wanted to read something interesting, informative, or aligned with your hobbies, you’d seek it out. You’d head to the library or the book store. Perhaps a friend would lend you a copy of their most life-changing book. The term “high quality” is subjective of course – my mother used to read nothing but Harlequinn romance novels at breakfast when I was a kid, but it made her happy, and that it’s important.

See, it’s not the grammar or how well the sentences are constructed, though for some this is a requirement when it comes to high quality literature. It’s about how the writing affects your soul. Perhaps the writing validates your beliefs. That always feels good. But perhaps it challenges your beliefs in such a way that you start to explore the ways in which your opinions might grow. Also good. This could apply to fiction or non-fiction.

But most of what we read today is constructed by our friends, or even worse, re-shared by our friends but written by someone else, someone who we’ve never met and can’t engage with on any meaningful level. This is what I mean by low quality. If I agree with what my social media friends have to say, I feel validated, which feels good, but now there’s an element of social interaction to it. I can re-post, or at least feel like I should re-post. If I disagree with something, I might feel angry, and the anger might leave a residue that sticks around for a while.

On the other hand, with high quality literature, the point isn’t to grab my eyeballs or clicks; it’s to open my mind. You know how you can tell the difference between literature that opens your mind compared to literature that just provides a knee-jerk reaction? After you read it, you keep it to yourself for a while. Or maybe you share it with your partner. But you know, inherently, that these are ideas meant for digestion before regurgitation.

Out there on the web? It’s nothing but barely digested Cheetos being spat onto the sidewalk.

If I made a pie chart of the amount of text I consumed and then color coded it by “high quality and low quality” it would very likely be something like 90% low quality and 10% high quality.

But still, I’m interested in what my friends have to say. Perhaps not all of them. I don’t exactly know what to do about this, but I do know it’s a problem.