… for most likely, it does!
One of the most significant changes that people are dealing with is the fact that in the lockdown stages they don’t have people in front of them telling them what they have to do, but rather they need to read instructions (most likely in a chat message or an email) telling them what they what they need to do.
Don’t underestimate the magnitude of this change. This is a sea change for most people. Where people didn’t need to read words spelt out, they didn’t need to understand the written language because they could always depend on the person in front of them explaining to them, could depend on them to infer the particular confusion that they chose to have at that point. From that point they need to actually change to make sense of a few words written in front of them. Many people don’t even realize the handicap they give to themselves by refusing to read.
Over the last few years. I realized that most people who are so-called literates are effectively illiterates. They’re only people who can write somehow. And I say this because most people don’t read. They may have the ability to read. But that doesn’t make them literate. Because they choose not to read, and behave like illiterates. What do you say?
Why do I say this? Lets take the example of sign-posts. Or that of emails people receive. Even signages that point out dangers are glossed over as if they never existed. They probably don’t exist for the masses. This phenomenon is even more striking for me because I work in a profession that lays the highest importance on Safety, which in turn means that paying attention to signages is the foremost responsibility of every worker and officer. Even so, the literacy of people is evinced to the same extent as in the rest of the region of South Asia. Most people depend on being told by someone, rather than having to read anything.
This aversion to reading, even the one or two words of a sign-post, has always remained a mystery to me, when I know the person can read. It is the ultimate disrespect to the person who wrote it, and also to one’s own intellect and ability, to not use it. Our life certainly doesn’t seem to depend on it.
Notice that Kerala has had the best response to the pandemic in recent times, and is it a coincidence that it is the state in India with the highest literacy rate? Thank God at least some of those people (if not many) actually must have read the advisories, the analyses, the way forward, and communicated with many others as civilized thinkers. Reading and writing polishes thinking.
Ultimately, reading and writing help us develop the discernment that comes from being well-read, and being sorted in our thinking. Our life depends on it…
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Not reading signposts and signages are more of an attitudinal indicator, according to me. It smacks of a misplaced sense of arrogance stemming from one’s own deemed or self proclaimed superiority.