eBookNewser poses a question for us to think about: “Should Reading Be Social?”
But, making reading social simply for the sake of being social runs the risk of missing something valuable — what is the point of social reading? What does it add to our reading experiences? Reading is a solitary activity; and there’s something irreplaceable about that pleasure of solitude we get from just ourselves and our books. And that’s perhaps the more central distinction: with the individual vs. collective experiences of reading, how does one compare the two experiences, really? When everything can be shared, the question of selectiveness — what is and isn’t social — should be something we keep in mind.
Evgeny Morozov, discussing the related topic of Facebook and social sharing in general, makes the point :Â “Besides, isnâ€™t it obvious that consuming great art alone is qualitatively different from consuming it socially? And why this fear of solitude in the first place?”
“Engaging the history of flÃ¢nerie may be a good way to start answering these questions. Thanks to the French poet Charles Baudelaire and the German critic Walter Benjamin, both of whom viewed the flÃ¢neur as an emblem of modernity, his figure (and it was predominantly a â€œheâ€) is now firmly associated with 19th-century Paris. The flÃ¢neur would leisurely stroll through its streets and especially its arcades â€” those stylish, lively and bustling rows of shops covered by glass roofs â€” to cultivate what HonorÃ© de Balzac called â€œthe gastronomy of the eye.â€
While not deliberately concealing his identity, the flÃ¢neur preferred to stroll incognito. â€œThe art that the flÃ¢neur masters is that of seeing without being caught looking,â€ the Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman once remarked. The flÃ¢neur was not asocial â€” he needed the crowds to thrive â€” but he did not blend in, preferring to savor his solitude. And he had all the time in the world: there were reports of flÃ¢neurs taking turtles for a walk.”