HOOKED

Have you heard of it? I hadn’t, not until this morning. What is HOOKED? Well, according to the app’s website, it is an app specifically for chat stories.

Every HOOKED story is told as a bite-sized text message conversation, as if you were reading someone else’s chat history.

We love reading, just like you, but we know it can get BORING when stories are too long. So we created this app to make reading snappy, spooky and fun.

The app is targeted to the 16 and under crowd, with the majority of the users being middle and early high schoolers. I am torn between reveling in this new form of story telling and weeping for the way it is advertised. Boring to read long stories? Really? That’s their pitch?

Apparently, it’s working. I have four children, each of them lovingly (and awkwardly) nicknamed for their privacy when I refer to them. It was the Man Child, my twelve year old, who introduced me to this new(ish) phenomena this morning. I saw him huddled in the rocker of our living room, phone in hand and simply assumed he’d downloaded yet another useless game to a prepaid phone he is not supposed to be using for gaming. I was even about to say something to him about it when he very excitedly asked “Mom, do you have HOOKED on your phone??”

The explanation of what it was followed when he nearly died of shock after I told him that I, in fact, did not have HOOKED nor did I even know what it was. Once he explained it, my mind went to an article I read some years back about a similar phenomena taking Japan by storm. Novels were delivered to their phones as serial texts. HOOKED, and apps like it, take it one step further, using high technology and social media to restore a sort of 1940’s radio show feel to the classic horror tale. The text messaging style makes it more like a dialogue between characters and the story is always left on a cliff hanger until the next batch of messages is delivered, thus keeping you ‘hooked’.

I applaud the app for its innovation, for certain, but it still concerns me to know that the attention spans of today’s youth (and some of today’s adults) has diminished so much that reading an actual novel has become boring, too time consuming, or simply cannot deliver that need for instant gratification that everyone seems to be looking for. There is something to be said about losing yourself to the world built in the pages of an actual book or to step into the shoes of a favorite character. I am overjoyed that my son is reading, and her certainly reads plenty of books, but what does this new form of micro-fiction hold for the rest of the written word? Are we really becoming a society of tales told within the confines of 140 characters or less?

I certainly hope not.

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