The Degradation of Literacy

EDible News: Nadine Wyczolkowski, Staff Writer

Our ability to read and write seems to be declining. There is a plethora of reasons why this may be so, yet one seems prominent in my mind: technology. Over time, our attention span shrinks to accept only what can be encapsulated in a mirage of a high sensory experiences that are mediated through technology, either by watching or listening, as opposed to doing, in a matter of seconds. Such intense moments are eventually considered mundane and lack-lustre, due to the continual bombardment of such messages through the media, that they become the norm. Anything less is ignored and overlooked, and that what is meaningful throughout these various forms are never learnt, as people are occupied with other things. What is presented as reality is merely a representation of something that the viewers likely never have experienced for themselves, or are unwilling to do because it necessitates a time commitment.

Not only is our intellectual ability changing, but our social knowledge is morphing as well. It becomes increasingly difficult to read people as texts, unable to decipher their body language, their words, any form of their communication in the present if we have the opportunity to connect face-to-face. Communicating ideas, written or not, is increasingly difficult as we do not have the continual and meaningful practice of interacting with others. The core of literacy to me is the importance of communication. While technology provides several avenues for some type of communication, it relegates once appreciated and simpler forms of communication to an inferior subsystem. I believe that our inability to read and write stems from our incapacity to connect with others.

How often do we see people reading for pleasure? How often do we write for the sake of writing? Currently, the education system dictates benchmarks related to literacy, yet is the curriculum truly fostering a love of reading and writing in future generations, or a deep and intense hate for literacy? Oftentimes, because we are forced to do something we do not develop a love for it, as true love requires choice, genuine love does not use pressure or force. Through my educational career, I have seldom enjoyed reading and writing as I have been forced to do so. It has been a duty…a twelve-page essay, a hundred-page reading for next class, they have been requirements for me to pass classes, yet they have not fostered my appreciation for reading and writing, if anything they have increased my resentment towards senseless exercises and those who treat pupils as robots who are supposedly able to consume the written word and make sense of it. Before we emphasize the importance of reading and writing, I feel that we should highlight the importance of human contact in the present, unmediated through technology…the literacy of humans.

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