Leave it to Margaret Soltan to put into words something I've been dancing around here for months, if not years, because I couldn't find the right words for it. Here she writes about Doris Lessing's Nobel Prize speech, in which Lessing expresses sadness at the decline of book reading in the Internet Age:
"She’s not really upset about this or that particular change in technology — she recalls, rightly, the novelty in its time of printing, and the anxieties about it expressed then. What’s upsetting her is the erosion of our capacity for interior, private, experience –the shrinking of that pure space within us which is our consciousness alone — nothing else, no one else’s. It’s the sickness unto death of our once-vital consort with our particular memories, our charged moments, our thoughts, fantasies, dreams, and associations, our peculiar insights and emotions, that Lessing laments in the speech. For only out of this purity do we create literature."
I'd suggest reading both Lessing's masterful speech and Soltan's wise and erudite notes on it. I have little to add.