Literacy is a skill that most people, especially in the West posses. It is prized by all societies and all people around the world. A fundamental way to improve the current situation in a society is by an increase in the rate of literacy. A culture can survive and be revived by its language and expressions being learned, and the power communicate for better or worse is evident. Many would look at the modern Western society and feel confident that this problem that plagued early societies is no longer one we need to focus on. However, a closer look at our modern society reveals that not only is the problem still there but another modern version is becoming a pressing issue. With consequences beyond just where the money is being spent.
Limiting Characters and limiting attention:
Peoples attention spans have continued to fall, and this has been studied extensively. While this argument has roots in ancient Greeks dislike of writing things down due to the fears of the impact on memory, it has recently been given more focus and also the severity. It has been well reported that many individuals will not read the article that they share or only read only the top sections. While before the information processing just changed form we have unfortunately seen with the new mechanisms that the ability to process information has already decreased. This means that unlike before the form of processing information is not changing but is being removed by the new mediums that are only growing in popularity.
Tech censorship has recently become highlighted. The limited characters to write a message are now being limited on what you can say. Even the president of the United States now can have their message hidden. The claim is that with how vague it is on certain topics it is dangerous. Yet the very system that twitter has created encourages nothing less than vague and non comprehensive positions.
Now in the modern-day emotions and what people are feeling is under threat. How people create is also being censored and controlled. Judgment used to be made for the consequences of the emotions but not the emotions themselves. In the modern era, certain expressions are no longer being allowed due to the fear that they will cause harm by existing in itself. This is contrasted with the previous goals of freedom of expression so that wrong opinions could be corrected and also known and not an underbelly created.
Also, the tolerance for traditionally held views is decreasing, and exclusion is making its way in. For many people around the world, a firewall and restriction are on what they can access and think about. A cutting example of this is the current changes and abductions of Hong Kong bookstores and their owners.
Messages Confused with no absolute detail:
An element of the decreases in communication ability is that it is becoming harder for people to debate or discuss something. Details that allow for actual criticism and disagreement with something that is supported are also decreasing. It means that the groups grow into limited blocks with nuance and difference within the group being hidden, preventing honest dialogue. With these restrictions, we are being prevented from new ideas and also new expressions with old ones also facing the cut.
The impact is going to felt across sectors. It means that the differences between each other and polarisation are only going to grow. This is not something that will be immediately felt, but as time goes on the impact will be felt more. This is not limited to just reading and it would be foolish to think that is not more of an extensive problem.
Ebook sales and the fact that now the gatekeepers of old in the bookstores created a narrative that more freedom had been created. However, even with more books and text-based entertainment being created does not address the heart of the problem that is detailed above. Also, Amazon has demonstrated that it is willing to censor due to standards and political positions. The hope that this would lead to a much more open source of reading and encourage people to develop reading skill has not been seen. This is not unique to reading as other sectors, and topics have also not had the internet promises eventuate.
There is even claims that the internet has made the situation worse. With the ability to consume so much information so quickly, it is possible that people consume all of it less. Paid information has also been a victim of this development. Traditional sources of income for the press and also the production of text has decreased. Some hope that non traditional media funded by the people and donations will be more than that yet once again this is just a hope.
The hope with books that existed at the start of the internet feel similar to the hopes for alternative media that is being seen now. If people are no longer willing to pay for text and also are increasingly unable to consume texts, the future does not look good.