On The Onion … and Deviant Reading Behavior
A recent story from satirical news source The Onion (www.TheOnion.com), entitled “Area Eccentric Reads Entire Book,” read:
Sitting in a quiet, downtown diner, local hospital administrator Philip Meyer looks as normal and well-adjusted as can be. Yet, there’s more to this 27-year-old than first meets the eye: Meyer has recently finished reading a book.
Yes, the whole thing.
“It was great,” said the peculiar Indiana native, who, despite owning a television set and having an active social life, read every single page of “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. …
Meyer, who never once jumped ahead to see what would happen and avoided skimming large passages of text in search of pictures, first began his oddball feat a week ago. Three days later, the eccentric Midwesterner was still at it, completing chapter after chapter, seemingly of his own free will.
… Over the years, Meyer has read dozens of books from beginning to end, regardless of whether he was forced to do so by a professor in school or whether a film version of the reading material already existed. …
According to behavioral psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Schulz, Meyer’s reading of entire books is abnormal and may be indicative of a more serious obsession with reading.
“Instead of just zoning out during a bus ride or spending hour after hour watching YouTube videos at night, Mr. Meyer, unlike most healthy males, looks to books for gratification,” Schulz said. “Really, it’s a classic case of deviant behavior.” …
After the humor of this story wore off a bit, I began to wonder: How far off is society at large from being in such a state that a story like this is no longer funny, but a horrible reality? I believe so far off that we can still laugh (and will be able to for quite some time) about The Onion’s story of Philip Meyer; but obviously there is mounting concern about the nation’s reading habits, and I can see why—among other reasons, I seem to question the intelligence of much of the population on a daily basis, especially while driving on the highway or watching the news.