Reading vs Watching: A matter of endless discussion since the time multimedia gained popularity on the internet. I love reading and like watching movies and TV series. I recently met someone who said that watching videos is more productive than reading books. Another person backed her by saying that reading books is old fashioned and a slower process; So we need a quick learning medium these days. After a long conversation, I accept that they made some valid arguments, So I planned to write an article describing and comparing both sides. In this article, I am comparing reading vs watching videos and then trying to explain its efficiency in different scenarios.
Reading vs Watching videos – The comparison
Reading is an active process whereas watching is a passive one. One needs a lot more attention while reading a book than that of watching videos. That is the reason for slowness in the process of reading. Though this slowness results in more retention of information. Studies have shown that the human brain retains more information when gained over a long period. Watching videos is like someone is feeding you the information with a spoon. You don’t have to place much effort to learn something. Books are considered more accurate, more careful and objective as compared to videos.
On the other hand, Videos are time efficient and more convenient option. You can watch a video quickly and you can intake a lot more information in a very short timespan. The human brain likes to visualise things and videos are the visualisations ready for you. Learning highly complex things is much faster and easier with videos as compared to the books.
When should you read books instead of watching videos
- When you want to learn and retain for a long time, you should choose the book. Reading books expand your imagination power and creativity. Something which you won’t realise right away. It is a bit hard to grasp the concept in books but since it is hard to understand, once you do learn it stays in your memory for longer.
- When you want to develop your literary skills, choose books. Reading books can improve your vocabulary, grammar and reading skills. Over time you will develop your reading speed. You can’t develop the speed of watching videos. Whether you watched one or a thousand, it remains the same. Whereas as you read more books, faster and effectively, you’ll be able to read more.
- It is a lot easier to skim the book. You can use the table of contents and index to quickly switch the section. But you can’t skim the video for a quick overview and most of the videos doesn’t support paging.
- When you are looking for details. Book provides you with a lot of details and you have to make sense of it and visualise on your own. Whereas in videos, you learn things from a narrator’s perspective, You can’t use your own imagination. Learning something from a narrator’s perspective is definitely not the best way to learn.
- When you want to learn at your own pace. You can slow down, or speed up the way you want. It doesn’t require any electricity, batteries or internet connection. As compared to videos where the pace is usually constant which might be either slow or fast for you.
When should you watch videos instead of reading books
- For quick entertainment, videos are a lot better. Books provide entertainment but not quick usually. Watching a story with a nice visualisation makes it more interesting. Books which are adapted into movies are always fun to watch, even when you like the book more. Watch videos which you think are just for entertainment and you are not expecting any big lessons from that.
- Watch videos for introductions to difficult topics, especially something unfamiliar. When it would take a lot of time to understand the topic, videos are a life saver.
- When you are running short of money, There are a lot of free videos readily available, books are rarely free. They can be cheap but not free.
- When you are running short of time, choose videos. You might need to work hard on details to learn it properly, but in case of tight deadlines, videos work better than books.
The hybrid option: Reading + Watching
If you aren’t sure if you should read the book or watch videos for something. You can try a hybrid option, a combination of both. For example, if you are reading a book which seems difficult. A video introduction will ease your process. I do this all the time. Whenever I read a book, especially a novel. If there is a movie adapted from the book, I watch the trailer of the movie on youtube which gives me a good idea of the book and makes it more fun to read it. Watching just a trailer won’t spoil the story but enhances the fun of reading. If I like the book, I might come back and watch the movie as well.
Conclusion & Recommendation
We are overloaded with information making it impossible to know everything. Learning something in depth certainly needs reading and it cannot be eliminated. Though you should utilise the videos and multimedia for a quick grab temporary less important information. In the struggle of Reading vs watching videos, Read books if you are trying to improve yourself in a long term and only in specific subjects that are very important to you. It takes time to read and you shouldn’t be reading crap or shouldn’t be spending hours reading crap. So start with videos using the hybrid option and switch to the books if you think it is worthy.
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