Why Is Critical Reading and Thinking Important in this Age of Content?
Typing a query into Google, reloading your Instagram feed, skimming through a news website – these are only a few of the mindless, quick, and easy things most of us do daily to gain a proportion of the exponentially increasing information online. Turning the cogs and gears in your brain to solve very complex problems can be very energy-consuming, and you may be thinking that you don’t have the time or need for that. Unfortunately, a lot of the seemingly simpler problems of the world have been solved by our ancestors a long time ago (thanks, great-grandpa). In this era of modernisation, where information is only a click away, there is an increasing importance for analytical reading and critical thinking, and here’s why.
1. Increasing employability
Efficient problem-solving through the act of critical thinking is a skill that is sought out by many employers and a characteristic common to most accepted applicants to Ivy League universities. No surprise there – the world, with its advancements in technology and demands for more life-changing innovations are the roots of the reason critical thinking is so vital. That’s also why the wages for jobs involving this skill tend to be sky-high: there are so few of them out there, and I don’t blame them. It’s difficult to imagine doing anything more difficult than your typical 9 to 5 office job.
However, the perks of being a problem-solving extraordinaire are abundant and benefit your career prospects in the long-run. So, I’d encourage you to aim to be one of those people who are capable of evaluating everyday problems closely and actively to come up with a solution, whether through mathematics, innovation, programming, or judgement. Trust me, this skill will turn out handy wherever you are!
2. Differentiating between real and fake news
Something happened 5 minutes ago? Boom, it’s already all over your news feed. As you may know, news and information grow at a rampant rate globally, but not everything you see and read is legitimate. Unfortunately, many content creators like to share fake information with the intention of misleading people. This is where close reading and analysis are integral. The ability to make logical decisions after reading content online is what helps you to escape being ‘gullible’. No matter how real a news article may come across, through critical reading and a little bit of research, you can ensure what you are reading is indeed the real deal. This also ensures that you don’t mislead others by sharing fake news!
3. Understanding implicit meanings
Literature students, you know what’s up. Critical reading allows us to understand the implicit or underlying meaning beneath the words of the author. Writers tend to weave their messages in and out of the words instead of stating them explicitly, sometimes to avoid political controversy or from being deemed an outright ‘satirist’. At times, critical reading of implicit meanings is what differentiates between a pass and a fail for a literature student. For everyone else, this skill helps people to truly understand literary works and posts made public on the news without missing the heart of the content.
4. Broadening knowledge
Of course, with critical reading comes a greater understanding of the given topic. This allows us to better comprehend what we read, so we are capable of forming opinions and to make judgments. Personal opinions and interpretation are necessary because it’s what makes us human – a world where everybody thinks in the same way would surely be bland: it would mean the mechanisation of human beings. Furthermore, this allows us to produce arguments for debate and discussion, which stimulates our creative thinking process. Evaluative examination of a text enables people to organise this information from a large scramble of facts into groups of linked ideas. Simply put, the better you are at reading in between the lines, especially for more difficult concepts, the more knowledge you will reap. It is also worth mentioning that critical analysis of information also promotes better recall of knowledge!
5. Allowing reflections to be made
When you’re able to understand something inside and out, it also enables you to reflect on what you’ve read. It can be about something that’s recently happened, or from an event that happened generations ago. Why has the author written something the way he has? Was it because of the political unrest at the time? What was the underlying cause of this situation? Critical analysis allows us to ponder upon the past, to act upon our present, in hopes for a better future. It allows humankind to progress and learn from their ancestor’s mistakes and successes.
6. Helping you to fight for your beliefs
Have you ever had a really powerful point that was sure to knock your opponent off of the ground in a discussion, only to repeatedly be told that your opinion is invalid? This is likely the case for many of the world’s leaders, whether political, religious, or social leaders. However, this may also apply to you at some point in your life. Perhaps you would one day have to defend your rights, for whatever reason. Critical reading and thinking can prepare you for this. Critical reading helps you to gain a stable and sufficient understanding of what you’re getting yourself into, while critical thinking helps you to convey your arguments eloquently to the world.
I personally believe that critical reading and thinking have both helped me a lot throughout my teenage years, especially since I participated in several public speaking and debating competitions. All in all, this is a skill and habit you ought to develop helps you get further in life and allows you to demonstrate your knowledge with flair. More companies are lacking employees because there aren’t many great problem-solvers around; rise up to the challenge, and you may be exactly what the world is looking for!