As he points out- “it is through books that we come to appreciate that others have trod the same path that we have, had the same doubts, the same pain. We come to understand that we are part of a human community and that we are not the center of the frigging universe. You have to ask, too: whose interest does it serve to have an increasingly large population of self-obsessed illiterates?”
Good question, that. I have a guess.
And speaking of George Bush- no, I’m not going to talk about The Beloved Leader today. Back to something that has no relationship to our President at all –namely, literacy. It’s easy enough to blame rising internet use, and point out that people, especially of college age, are spending more time there than they are spending in the library. But what exactly is it that most of them do on the internet? They read. They may not be reading Silas Marner (as if anyone ever did read Silas Marner. Back in 1975 when my class had to read it, only about 4 of us UberDweebs actually did; it's a good book, by the way, you should read it sometime), but they are probably reading, and writing, a good deal more than kids were back in 1992.
The problem with blaming the internet for declining literacy is that there is no control group. It could just as well be argued (as I just did) that internet use actually heightens literacy, and that if the internet had not been invented, we’d be sitting here in 2005 with only 21% of college grads able to read that pesky pill bottle label.
Which brings up another thing that bugs me about the reporting of this study. The thing that I found most appalling was that back in 1992 (well before the ‘net) only 41% of college grads could read that frigging pill bottle label! The drop from 41% to 31% does not trouble me nearly as much as the fact that both numbers are well under half of all college grads -college grads, for fuck’s sake, who apparently were too illiterate to read their own diplomas.
My cat is more literate than that.
I’m not sure, once you get that far down, that 41% vs 31% means all that much.
Maybe it’s a matter of context. I’ll bet more than 31% of ‘em could read and interpret a beer bottle label.