Has anyone else noticed how we’ve become a culture of scanners?
People don’t comprehend what they read anymore.
It’s as if they cherry-pick a few words of text and jump to conclusions – almost always wrong.
No matter how clear the text may be,
no matter how spelled-out it is in black and white
their interpretation and conclusion is wrong.
I’ve witnessed this more and more mostly at work but it’s also been happening in my daily interactions where written text is involved.
At work (and home) I’ll send emails and get serious reply’s that have nothing to do with what I had emailed. And I have to re-send the email and highlight the words they skipped. They will then email back saying, “why did you send this to me again” – and my response is “because you didn’t answer my question”. They they respond, “Oh, I see now…” So much time is wasted when people just read the subject line or scan the content without taking the time to read and comprehend what was written.
Naturally, some questions come to mind:
What are the consequences of this?
How much longer will it take to get things done?
How many mistakes will be made?
Has technology made it possible for things to move too fast?
Has technology made comprehension impossible?
Has technology made idiots of humanity?
Is it necessary to dumb-down the written word to a brief “texting” and “tweeting” format?
At what point will communication have nothing to do with the word?
At what point will communication be just a series of gestures and expressions?
At what point will humanity become digital grunting cave-men/cave-women?
Even if things are reduced to pictograms – will that help?
Will all books in the future be solely image-based with no text (not for reasons of censorship and control – as in Fahrenheit 451 – written by Ray Bradbury – but…) out of an inability/unwillingness to read?
Will written content just be fuel for fire?
I’m happy to say that most of my friends who are avid readers have not yet fallen prey to this disease. But I am seeing it spread (unfortunately).
Treatment for this disease:
Time. Taking time to read, comprehend, think about – then respond/act.
Stop & Read.
A fun song from 1991 by indie band Mega City Four off their album Sebastopol Rd.
In this case use the word “listen” as a metaphor for “read” and this song will be equally applicable.
Accurate comprehension depends on taking the time to STOP and read. Some of you will undoubtedly just jump to the video without reading this post.