Week 1: Biological Sphere (Annotated Bibliography)
Hello and welcome to my first blog post!
For this week, I am focusing on the biological sphere of how the evolution of book marketing affects knowledge interpretation of Generation Z. More specifically, I’m researching how the digitization of everything literary has influenced the brains and attention spans of the group mentioned above.
As I plan for my final product to be a research paper, I focused on compiling sources to create an annotated bibliography for the biological sphere of my project:
Source 1 (Literary): Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (New York: Ballantine Books, 1978).
In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury conjures up a dystopian society that foreshadows what he fears the world is becoming as the digital increasingly replaces the physical. One character that stands out, in particular, is the main character Guy Montag’s wife, Mildrid. In contrast to her husband, who seeks a more ‘authentic’ world, Mildrid is physically and mentally damaged by electronic devices and artificial stimuli. One interaction between Mildrid and Guy is described as such, “Mildred watched the toast delivered to her plate. She had both ears plugged with electronic bees that were humming the hour away. She looked up suddenly, saw him, and nodded. “You all right?” he asked. She was an expert at lip reading from ten years of apprenticeship at Seashell ear-thimbles. She nodded again.” Mildrid’s ‘ear-thimbles’ (strangely reminiscent of the now-popular airpods) have physically changed her body and how she interacts with those around her. She has essentially lost a function she was born with because of society’s promoted lifestyle. Similarly, as on-screen media has changed Generation Z’s attention spans and brain structures, book marketing has followed suit, resulting in narrower and more shallow knowledge interpretations from Generation Z.
Source 2 (Theoretical): Baudrillard, Jean, 1929-2007. Simulacra and Simulation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994.
Jean Baudrillard presents his interpretation of the status of the world in Simulacra and Simulations, in which he argues that all of reality has been or is being replaced by simulations—and that other simulations are replacing those simulations. This process is repeated until nothing reflects anything, and there is no trace of reality everywhere. Baudrillard uses Disneyland as an example, “Disneyland is presented as imaginary to make us believe that the rest is real, whereas all of Los Angeles and America surrounding it are no longer real, but belong to the hyperreal order and the order of simulation. It is no longer a question of a false representation of reality (ideology) but of concealing that the real is no longer real, thus saving the reality principle.” Social media is presented as the ‘imaginary.’ It is promoted as an escape from everything real, which is why so many indulge in it. The stereotypes of social media and digital promotion being shallow and mindless are acceptable because they are seen as fake–confirming that Generation Z’s knowledge interpretation patterns are still normal and intact. However, like Baudrillard’s Disneyland, social media has entwined itself with Generation Z’s reading patterns, making the imaginary our reality.
Source 3 (Popular): Sudhakar, Shiv, New report reveals TikTok acts on children’s brains like a ‘candy store’, https://nypost.com/2022/04/08/tiktoks-impact-on-childrens-brains-likened-to-candy-store/
Much of book marketing has shifted to popular social media apps, most notably on the fast-growing platform ‘TikTok,’ which hosts short videos that average from 24-31 seconds. Journalist Shiv Sudhakar reports, “If kids’ brains become accustomed to constant changes, the brain finds it difficult to adapt to a non-digital activity where things don’t move quite as fast.” TikTok physically alters the structure of brains, especially as “the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed until…age 25”, encompassing the vast majority of Generation Z. As attention spans continuously decrease, teenagers are less inclined to diversify their reading and engage in ‘deep’ learning through literary sources. This may be why authors like Colleen Hoover and Alex Aster have found so much success even when their books aren’t necessarily of the greatest quality. They know how to manipulate digital marketing with speedy mediums such as TikTok videos, Instagram reels, and Youtube shorts and can sell more.
Source 4 (Scholarly): Chen Dar-Wei and Catrambone Richard, “Paper vs. Screen: Effects on Reading Comprehension, Metacognition, and Reader Behavior”, SAGE Journals, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1541931215591069
In “Paper vs. Screen: Effects on Reading Comprehension, Metacognition, and Reader Behavior,” researchers Dar-Wei Chen and Richard Catrambone report results from a study analyzing how college students react differently to on-screen vs. paper texts. They found that “the participants reading text on paper tended to take more notes while reading than those in the screen conditions…On average, those in the paper conditions also spent more time studying than screen condition participants”. As the twenty-first century sees a world filled to the brim with technological advances and usage, physical books are also noted to be shifting to the digital. Kindles and ebooks are growing increasingly popular, and book promotion has largely converted to residing on the internet and various social media platforms. As popular apps such as ‘TikTok’ and ‘Instagram’ have narrowed teenagers’ reading palates, Chen and Catrambone provide a possible explanation for why–as it seems that paper texts (which grow increasingly rare) promote deeper learning compared to their on-screen counterparts. Generation Z are therefore encouraged to read in a shallower manner, especially because every promotion around them points to frivolous consumption, leading to a change in knowledge interpretation. Next week, I plan on expanding these sources by creating a quote outline. I also plan to prepare analysis for the psychological sphere of my project. Thank you so much for reading!