There was a time long ago when the written word had such a powerful impact on our society that one man's recorded thoughts could change the attitude of an entire nation and at times even alter the course of history. Then, along came television and radio.
Mass media arrived on the scene and all of a sudden reading became too much work. It became much easier to just turn on the television and have the man in the little electronic box tell us the state of the world’s affairs. Soon, entire generations would be raised by the television. Why read when you can watch events unfold right before your very eyes, live, 24 hours a day?
The written word was nearly extinct.
Then, along came the internet ... the one medium where reading is indeed fundamental.
Through the electronic connection and communication of millions of different users from all over the world, a new generation is reclaiming a nearly forgotten art form. Reclaiming it, refining it, and reanimating it to make it bigger, better, and more powerful than it ever was.
Again, we see the power of creative writing and its ability to change the world, except now it reaches more people, faster, and everyone has the chance to contribute. From giving your opinions on news sites to actually writing that news yourself, there is no shortage of ways to get your ideas heard. Before, a writer could reach thousands of people if they were really good; now, millions and millions of people are reading and entering the latest scene. Not only reading, but also sharing commentary.
Some writers are still using the old ways in which the only comments they receive on their stories are through letters to local newspapers and chance meetings on the street. For those of us in the trenches (by trenches I mean writing on the internet), things are different. We can do a piece and come back an hour later and everyone and their grandmother will have something to say about it. People even comment on other people’s comments. Hemmingway never dealt with that kind of pressure. Neither did Plato. It might very well have driven them insane.
The writers nowadays are tougher. Not only do we write the stories, but a lot of the times we have to defend them as well. Fact checking has to be more complete. With the readers having access to the vast depth of knowledge provided by search engines, it is nearly impossible to get away with anything inaccurate. We still have the same integrity to hold up, only we now have a generally more informed reader base.
However, we also have more power because we have more people listening. An entire class that has been unattainable by our predecessors is now entirely open to us. It is a bigger picture now, a braver world if you will. The greatest writers of this new millennium will come from the internet, as will the most profound readers.
This is only the beginning. We're evolving, so welcome to what once was the future.