Imagine a world where you don’t have to read. Stop imagining. Look around you. We are living in it. Countless people are illiterate. Countless people don’t know how to read.
“Reading will become obsolete in the next 25 years.” That time period represents another generation. Is this possible? When faced with this statement, the response transforms itself into a two-sided debate, each side passionate with their supporting views. One argument vehemently proclaims it would never happen. These are the ardent literacy supporters. The other side looks at the current situation with a different perspective as they entertain the possibility and considers the eventuality of reading becoming obsolete.
In view of the rapid technological advancement, the world has experienced in the last 25 years, traditional reading requirements and styles have relaxed. Slang words like “swag” and “selfie” have become members of the world acclaimed dictionaries. Spell check and computer readers in gender specific voices do our editing and even read articles for us. With the advent of e books, the age of paperless reading has become more popular among this generation. One can go as far to say that paperless reading has improved our environment since less books have to be made and more can be downloaded onto our mobile devices and enjoyed at our leisure. Online libraries have replaced traditional libraries as books which were considered the canons of literature accumulate dust with every day their pages remain in an unturned state.
Literacy involves the tenets of reading, writing and understanding. Each depend on the other. The recent mode of writing or messaging has made letter writing an archaic mode of communication as less people use it and even less understand it. The postal service is referred to as slow mail as person’s preference for email overtakes the traditional mode of sending correspondence. It is faster and faster means more effective. Still on the subject of messaging the omission of vowels from our vernacular is challenging the traditional forms of spelling as “good” is replaced by “gd”, “btw” means “by the way” and “gm” stands for “good morning”. There’s “smh” and “ikr” which respectively mean “shaking my head” and “I know right”. These forms of writing are used every day and make the shift to challenge the traditional spheres of writing, where they are considered to be inappropriate by a literate few. This extends to the use of emoticons which substitute words and more importantly sum up a person’s emotions.
Yet these holders of the tenants of literacy, these literate few, passionately defend their opinions that reading is here to stay. It is necessary to read for survival in today’s world and the world in the future, in order to effectively manipulate the facets of the rapid technological advances. By comparison, signs which grace our daily lives are replaced by pictorial representations of the same words. This is the case with bathrooms as men, women, unisex and wheelchair accessible facilities are communicated by their pictures instead of words. Colours such as “red” and “green” communicate “stop” and “go” respectively. Some review the paperless route of reading as a more interactive and relevant approach to reading as they champion the cause of literacy. Technology is viewed as a means by which reading and writing will become more interesting to others and banish the view that reading has become a bore.
What if this technological advancement has a drawback? What if we are moving too fast? What if nature intercedes and creates a balance with technology? This rapid technological advancement may create friction with nature’s advancement and nature may retaliate in order to achieve its quest for balance and harmony. This brings us to our final concept, with literacy there is reading, writing and understanding working together in tandem. When there is a lack in one tenant, the others invariably suffer.
A lack of reading and writing will result in a lack of understanding. Our ability to think creatively, imagine and innovate will come under attack. Degeneration will replace personal development as literacy continues along the path of deterioration. The end result will be a generation of people coming to the forefront whose skills of reading, writing, numeracy and understanding are lacking. Vision will be nullified and our human race will perish. Not if we the literate few have breath in our bodies.
So that leaves me to ask you: What was the name of the last book you read lately?