I'll get right to it: The scholars who doubt your intelligence and reading skills are narrow dimwits. And, you have every right to tell them to attend to their own reading abilities. You are able to read critically in the form they desire, as well as reading in diverse ways.
A faction of scholars have created a Brain Trust under the helm of Nicholas Carr, who escalated the debate with his 2008 article "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" in the Atlantic, which I have debated handley. Carr stated that digital media "supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought. And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation." I have greater trust in you, and in myself.
The question started out as a good one, though outdated now. It turns out that we have multiple literacies just as we have multiple intelligences, and scholars along with the Pew Research Center agree. But here I will explore what the educated class sometimes deems "real reading."
Real reading in higher education refers to critical reading rather than casual internet or pulp fiction. Carr and others have a point, in that we should be able to do this form of reading. Katherine Anne Ackley describes it this way:
you read something carefully, thoughtfully, and thoroughly for two reasons: first, to understand it, and second, to assess it. Once you develop a clear understanding of a piece of writing, you have a solid basis for moving beyond comprehension to evaluation.
You are capable of this type of reading though it may not have been presented to you in this way in the past. I will define and describe critical reading, and you can use your own good judgement to decide on its utility.
Modes of reading
Most of the time you spend reading, you probably won't use this approach, but there are occasions when it is quite handy to have as a skill. A college course is just one example. You might use these techniques on the job with important documents, whitepapers, emails, or hand books. But don't feel obligated to always read this way because academia says you should.
Critical reading can be broken down into parts:
I've summarized the whole process for you in the chart below:
That is what Carr and others are referring to by deep or critical reading. You can handle that right? You probably already do it frequently.
I will still go toe to toe with anyone who wants to argue that digital media is making us dumb. I contend it is enhancing our intelligence. I hope you find this review helpful. In education, greater access, lower cost, expanded freedom, and increased knowledge are all positive. Only the old or blind fail to see this.