Musings of an Urban Redneck

Whatever happened to literacy?

I’ve noticed a tendency by many internet posters and users to take shortcuts with their writing. The general reason, so I’m told, is that typing grammatically correct sentences in real time is too difficult. With the proliferation of blogs, social networking sites, chats and MMORPG’s one would think that people would be conscious of the message they’re trying to get out and be a little careful about what they type. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. In fact, should someone dare mention that the message presented is incomprehensible, they’re accused of being a “Grammar Nazi”. I’m reasonably certain we’ve all seen this sort of accusation – and also the post/comment/statement of the accuser. I know I mentally monitor my internet communications because of this. One cannot make a statement “ur a illiterate moren” without looking like a complete fool. It behooves one then, to be as precise and as grammatically correct  as possible.

Now – being grammatically correct and literate is, so I’m told, difficult. Courtesty is apparently difficult; grammar is not. We all learned it (or we were supposed to have) and any graduate of a high school is supposed to be literate. Apparently, what supposedly is true, is not. Literacy rates are falling by the standards set by government. The governmment’s response is to move the goalposts – therefore, a lesser level of literacy – what was once known as functional literacy is now the defining standard for full literacy.

Ideas, while important, must still be expressed as a coherent whole. If you have a wonderful idea but can’t properly communicate that idea – then really, your grand plan is somewhat valueless, isn’t it? Having teachers tell you not to worry about the spelling or grammar isn’t helping you – it is in fact, hindering your communication skills – the very thing those teachers are supposed to be getting across to you. Teachers do this because ensuring students are properly grounded in language skills is hard. Not difficult, just hard. Going back to the idea of difficult – try teaching these same children courtesy – now you’ve a reason to complain.

Literacy is a linchpin of society and a modern democratic society relies on its citizens to be literate. Tolerate illiteracy and you’re effectively telling your society that you care little for its continuance.


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