by Dean Harris

Seeing Words

I noticed something tonight. Something mildly distressing.

I was sitting on the couch re-reading Patrick Rhone’s book, Keeping it Straight, and I noticed that I couldn’t remember anything of the last paragraph I’d read. I immediately went back and re-read it of course, but the sensation kept occurring.

After I felt the sensation 4 or 5 times I realised that I wasn’t reading the words, I was simply seeing them. I was looking at the words and recognising them, but I wasn’t actually thinking about them or absorbing them.

I’d be willing to bet that I’m not the only person who is afflicted by this. In fact I’d say than many people are affected by this, they just don’t know it yet.

I believe that this particular phenomenon is caused, at least in part, by the fact that I “consume”1 so many words in a day. I’m always in a hurry to move from one article, or tweet, or email, or whatever onto the next thing. As a result, I’ve grown to simply see the things I should truly be reading.

I need to change this. I’m going to change this. I’m going to slow down. I’m going to read and absorb every word of what it is I’m reading. If I catch myself simply seeing the words again, I’ll go back and start over. Even if I never completely fix the problem, at least I’m aware of it.


  1. I know, I know, we don’t like that word anymore thanks to Shawn’s post about it, but it’s the only word that makes sense if I’m not actually reading the words.