Voluntary illiteracy

Reading is a sublime pleasure for me, so I always find it rather a shame when people tell me that they don’t read – or even worse, that they hate reading. It’s a bit like someone saying, “Oh, I don’t really like orgasms and anyway, I’m too busy”. Hey, each to their own, but it’s still sad and it’s even sadder that the anti-reading stance appears to be growing.

Apart from the enjoyment that I derive from reading, I have noticed that there are beneficial side-effects, such as knowing how to spell ordinary words without slavishly resorting to the spell check function. This can be useful in many circumstances, such as the work environment, for example.

Modern word processors can do some pretty amazing things, but they haven’t quite reached the stage where they can pass a Turing Test. There are nonetheless those who seem to believe that the program is able to figure out what you are trying to say. This unthinking reliance on the spell checker allows otherwise intelligent people to produce written communication that varies from the merely embarrassing to the truly excremental. One of my colleagues sent me the following gem about progress on site: “The contractor’s officers will be erect before the end of the week. The client is hopping to see some action soon“. I’m not making this up. Needless to say, my colleague isn’t much of a reader.


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