“The printed or mass-produced book discouraged reading aloud, and reading aloud had been the practice of many centuries. Swift, silent scanning is a very different experience from manuscript perusal, with its acoustic invitation to savor words and phrases in many-leveled resonance. Silent reading has had many consequences for readers and writers alike, and it is a phase of print technology which may be disappearing” (Marshall McLuhan in a 1972 interview, from Understanding Me, MIT Press, 2005).
If nowadays we see somebody reading aloud, we may think that he is not fully literate. But we are not surprised to see people talking aloud on their mobile phones on the streets.
The advent of silent reading, according to McLuhan, had consequences both for privacy and for developing an individual point of view. Through Internet technology, we are back reading louder and louder. When we share our readings on social media, we read as loud as to the whole world, but what is weakening is the connection of words to our inner selves. It seems that, to hear our voices, we have to hear it in the echo of other people’s feedback through social media.
We no longer feel an inner resonance of what we read but need it to be bounced back to us by the infinite reverberations of the Net.