Literature in the 2000s

In a decade filled with the greatest rapid technological upheaval since the Industrial Revolution, it was trees that finally caught a big break with paper consumption dropping by 6% in the world’s richest countries between 2000 and 2006, with digital replacing pulp as the master copy in the business world. While the illiterate population of the world continued to diminish in the 21st Century, in the developed world children turned more and more to technological getaways like video games, phone apps, and social media such as Youtube in their spare time, signalling the decline of book production and the deterioration of habitual reading. The educational systems of the civilized world scrambled to come up with solutions to combat the increase of presenteeism at school, which is when you show up to class but don’t give a shit. The writing was on the wall: children were dropping-in in order to drop-out, with the unforeseen result being the greatest per-capita increase in philistinism since Babylonian times. Important works of literature were still being written, but literature seemed to grow older while many of the other arts grew younger. Literary works of fiction were reclassified and repackaged as erudite literature in our anti-intellectual era, which was shorthand for boring or stuffy or pedantic, and were grandfathered out of the limelight. If you weren’t writing fantasy, mystery, romance, sci-fi, or horror, or any other of the genre-specific refuse being peddled on the agora alongside the twenty-nine cent dappled bananas and wrinkled sprouted potatoes, chances are you were sleeping on your mother’s re-upholstered sofa, living the pariah artist fantasy of your dreams. But what goes around, comes around, so don’t be surprised if grandpa know-it-all undergoes a Benjamin Button-esque transformation sooner than later.