Comics line the shelves of an avid reader’s bookcase. PHOTO COURTESY OF LITTLE VILLAGE MAGAZINE
Sometimes, the best way to find a new hobby is to return to one you had when you were twelve years old.
Over the winter break, I enrolled in a course called “Consumer Behavior,” where I had to make positive changes to myself in a 30-day period. My primary goal was to reduce my screen time, specifically limiting my time on social media platforms. The main way I did this was by catching up on my graphic novels, which really gave me appreciation for both reading and comics as a medium.
Over the Fall 2022 semester, I found myself on my computer more than ever before. With my involvement with Snapper and leading the “Super Smash Club,” alongside completing homework and other responsibilities through my computer, there was rarely a moment where I was not looking at a screen. Unfortunately, I garnered a harsh habit of translating my work breaks into even more screen time, choosing to scroll through social media for hours as I found it easier than other more mindful hobbies.
Screentime is well known as being harmful to physical and mental health, but the act of “mindless scrolling” is particularly dangerous and addictive. Charity organization London Youth discussed how mindless social media scrolling, or the act of scrolling through posts without really interacting with the content or thinking about what it means, leads to dependency of dopamine. Personally, I found myself scrolling faster and faster throughout last semester, consuming more posts while also giving less mental effort towards interacting with each one.
To clarify, graphic novels are either collections of individual comic issues or longer books in a comic style. Creation of the former has become a popular trend in comics in recent years, as it is much more convenient to keep one book rather than collecting smaller issues. Also, graphic novels tend to feature entire stories, making the stories themselves much more accessible than if it was needed to find parts individually.
While reading graphic novels is not a new hobby for myself, it is an activity I found myself becoming interested in again over the last year. While I really enjoyed reading comics during this year, I would again find myself tempted to just scroll on social media to give my mind a break. Fortunately, after getting into the habit of reading at least 30 minutes per day, it became much easier to just have myself sit down and dive into a book.
In a world where we often judge ourselves for our productivity, many forget that taking care of yourself and having hobbies you enjoy is important, as well. Taking the time to read was the most refreshing means of a break I have had in quite some time, especially in bringing my eyes away from my laptop and phone.
Over the break, I read over 1,000 pages worth of comics, finishing 4 different books that were in my backlog. Compared to other media, I felt more satisfaction checking a graphic novel off my list over finishing a movie, as I would be much more relaxed after reading than watching a show or movie. Reading comics also made me think much more about what I was doing than while scrolling through social media.
With the younger generations becoming more cognizant of reducing screen time, many are putting more time into hobbies such as reading and cooking, which give an opportunity to disconnect. While I got behind in reading everyday since the semester started, I do wish to return to regular reading once I get settled into my classes. Having those reading breaks made me much more productive over the winter semester, and I feel seeing this productivity increase encouraged a positive habit I can instill for the rest of my life.