Thursday, April 14, 2011

L is for Literacy

Literacy. That is a damn important word, and it means a heck of a lot more than the average person thinks it does. It isn’t just the ability to read and write, although that is a big part of it. But it also means to “understand”, and be competent. It is true, reading and writing isn’t 100% necessary in society today, but a person who can’t do either is severely limiting their options.

Of course, I don’t expect everyone to get As in English and grammar and create every forum or Facebook post as if it were going to an editor. I also realize that those using mobile devices such as an iPhone to post up may find it easier to abbreviate 75% of what they say to save time. It’s really hard to tell everyone how frustrating your day was when you are behind the wheel.

However, I have seen, first hand, the spelling and grammar of some people (the young especially) and it scares me. I loved to read and write at a very early age and so once again, I understand that it isn’t everyone’s bag but *damn*! Every single person in sixth grade or above should be able to form a logical, flowing sentence that conveys its point in a concise manner. What happens more often is abbreviated ramblings mixed in with so much slang that nobody over the age of 21 can make it out. Why is that bad, you ask? I’ll tell you.

We aren’t always 18 years old and looking for the next party or date. We can’t always spend our days using fuel to drive up and down the Boulevard looking for action. We won’t always be young and pain-free and full of energy. At one point, we must get jobs, pay bills, figure out taxes, fill out forms, create a resume, and so on and so forth. And that, I fear, is what will separate the men from the boys, so to speak.

If you have spent 50% of your life on an iPhone, sending messages like, “Whre u at, grl?” or “FML, wntd to prty so bad I ht my prnts”, does anyone really believe that they’ll be able to clean up their act for a job interview? Now, I realize that every generation thinks the newer one is full of foul-ups and morons, but this newest generation of teens actually scares me a little. Luckily, you still need a decent education to get into most professions that actually make a difference but still, it’s scary. Doctors, lawyers, bankers, psychiatrists and even police will always be required to prove at least a basic knowledge of reading and writing.

I know a guy, right now, who can send out an email where easily 75% of the content is horribly misspelled or so jacked up grammatically that it must be read three and four times just to break its code. That man is 42 years old and doesn’t hold a high school diploma. I’m just saying.


KBalbify said...

My dad, was, and still is a horrific speller. He is an avid reader, obtained a two year degree and then later became an industry expert in his field where he went on to author a book to tell folks how to build and maintain their power plants.

What I think is uber cool about technology and future education is that it might give people the education they need to help them excel personally. I agree with your point about abbreviations but in reality, we used to use a host of Acronyms at my old job - so many so that each division had to have their own glossary of terms.

As long as folks continue to communicate, I think whatever method they use will change with the times. Literacy is definitely about comprehension too, and sometimes maybe the words don't matter as much as the intent.

Christina said...

I am of the belief that the most illiterate people on earth are on FB. Don't blame the iPhone.

Eliza said...

On, no any comment that starts with "My Dad..." is bad juju. :) Abbreviations and acronyms are one thing, but nary a correct spelling to be found in the last years worth of FB postings is another. I think you also left out an important part of literacy, reading to comprehension. The first 10 people I ask will tell me they have not read anything; book, magazine article or "there" child's book report since they were required to submit a book report themselves. People who don't know their, there and they're drive me nuts. Some of those people are cops, nurses or other professionals. **shivers**

Eliza said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marie Anne said...

It is scary and most of it is nothing but laziness. What's worse is these same people you speak of are writing content and getting paid for it.

Popping in by way of the A-Z Challenge. I’m blogging at:
Write, Wrong or Indifferent
Marie Anne’s Missives
In the Garden With Sow-n-Sow
Every Day Crochet

Karen B said...

So dead on! My 21 year old daughter makes my head explode with horrific spelling and grammar. She wasn't a bad student, there's really no excuse for how she writes. I tend to skip over anything I can't understand from those who I know could write properly if they chose to.

Poddys said...

Good points, and it is scary. I wonder how they will get office jobs or even get through university, when they are covered in tattoos and piercings as well as not being able to spell or use correct grammar.

It's a weird world that we live in today.

Maria said...

Kudos to this sentiment.

That being said, I would like to respond to Poddys reference to tattoos and piercings.

Neither are here nor there in consideration of intelligence, literacy or validity in the work force.

I collect body art and have many large, highly visible tattoos. I, in addition to both reading and writing for pleasure, manage a highly profitable financial services store owned by a successful multi-state corporation. I started at the bottom and am working my way higher every day.

Many companies, in fact, are shedding the antiquated idea that tattoos are limited to the unsavory or untrustworthy.

One company that I am confident you are familiar with is Target. Granted, it may not top the wish list of career options, but it shows an opening of minds and that the business world is setting itself up for the future. Rather than basing it's hiring practices in fussy prejudices, it embraces a more youthful, edgier ideal for it's employees.

In closing, perhaps if more people chose to open a cover once in a while, they may find that they like what's there to be read inside.

Derek, I am sorry for both the rant and any misspellings...LOL(get it? LOL... short for laugh out loud... ha! I crack myself up sometimes... lmfao...)

James said...

SAdly, the very people who need to will not read this... it has too many of those annoying word-thingies.

Saoirse O'Mara said...

Derek, a great post on an important topic. With your permission, I would like to re-post this on Language Love and add my own thoughts there. You will get the credit due and a link to your blog, of course.


Anonymous said...

I liked this post a lot, and chuckled at Marie Anne's comment because it's so true! I cringe when reading through my facebook news feed. Ack, read what you're saying before you press 'ok' for the whole world to read. One of my pet peeves!