Modern world tends to implement computer science technology in every type of human activity. Nearly two decades ago people started to read, write, search, purchase and communicate on-line. The modern media technologies provided access to any library in the world. People got a possibility to read and analyze numerous primary sources and visualized artifacts. The Internet allowed people to find the easiest way of task accomplishment, so they see no necessity to search for and discover information. Such evolution transformed a former thoughtful, hungry and tools lacking researcher into a passive and saturated consumer. Therefore, the question remains whether the new technologies led people to a new level of spiritual development or only simplified their perception.
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Modern educators witness degradation of literacy among students despite all the achievements and possibilities provided by the modern mass media technologies. Not so long ago, people exchanged notes, messages and thoughts with words. Nowadays, there appeared a tendency to nonverbal exchange in the media space communication. The speed of Internet technologies development dooms humanity to losing its ability of perceiving reality with language.
Evolution of Literacy within Recent Decades
In the traditional meaning, literacy implies ability to read and write. In modern understanding, the concept includes operation of information in the media space. The question appears whether these abilities compete or add to each other. Reading is one of the basic techniques necessary for filtration, perception and production of original content. It is the primary condition of language acquisition. Words of a language provide the human mind with an ability to operate facts about objects and phenomena. Profound absorbed reading helps to create a vision necessary for the development and successful promotion of ideas and theories. Moreover, it contributes to formation of imagination and creativity in the human mind. Love of reading can help a person to develop into a thought-provoking author, capable of empathy and reflection on reality. Unfortunately, in terms of modern digital literacy, reading has become a part of the click-and-share process that is necessary for detecting consumers’ attention. Chatfield states that the modern tendency to adaptation of texts to the demands of search engines destroys complexity of life perception. In order to earn some profit people adapt to the needs of computer world communication at the expense of their sound mind and independent functioning.
The great advantage of former ways of reading and getting information from books was the absence of ads in them. It let people feel secluded and did not interrupt their imaginary journey over space and time. Reading books line by line made the human mind work out images, create pictures and places, appreciate events and behavior and feel the same way as the characters in a book. On-line reading resembles manipulation by the information providers due to the constant effect of advertising. They expose necessary texts or images, but in response they want consumers’ attention. To some extent, people on the net lose their vitality and power of concentration. They subconsciously waste too much of their precious time, which might otherwise be used for some thoughtful and meaningful process.
In the past, the ability to read profoundly and with interest was not common among students too. Quindlen revealed that she had always felt a bit lost among her friends and classmates because of her love to reading. She witnessed the challenges in diligent and bookworm students in the early stages of world view development. It has become a great challenge to modern educators to make students read original fiction texts nowadays because digital literacy implies quick operation of information without its profound consideration.
Human mind is much more productive when it follows natural inspiration and not oppression. In modern schools, it has become natural to make and even force students to read without making them feel the pleasure of readers’ seclusion. Moreover, many instructors follow not inward but outward motivation, forced by the needs of the teaching course program and mass media rules. The desire to read appears inwardly, but in many cases it is like an infection transmitted from some booklover to an amateur reader. Nowadays, people start perceiving reality not by means of language but through the prism of icons promoted in the media space. New brands show the status and success of personality in the hierarchy of social groups. Materialistic intentions reject any profitless intention that does not lead to enrichment and social success. However, it is a common truth that real geniuses rarely reached acknowledgement in life. It came to them only after their death. It remains a question why human sufferings and strivings created in literary works remain actual and vital even after their creator’s death. Obviously, those people managed to produce meaningful original content. By contrast, the modern tendency to simplification can lead to irretrievable loss in terms of reality perception, culture and communication.
Possible Consequences of Literacy Degradation
Modern people do not adhere to sophisticated ways of problems solving. They would appeal to any chance of minimization of efforts and inner tension. Such economy of attention can transform into human inability to create original content over time. On the one hand, it is a great economy of time while students do not have to go to the library and spend hours in a catalogue room looking for the texts. A simple press of a button shortens the search process and seems to be an economical way of looking for the necessary information. On the other hand, the price for such simplicity can be too high and ruinous for the development of traditional literacy in modern media space. It is enough to observe how many students prepare their reports, simultaneously surfing social networks, blogs and playing video games. They concentrate on their pleasure and not on the mystery of the search process.
Profound reading helps to reach a new level of mind development, travel in space and time, see the brightness of colors and broaden the vitality of perception. Language acquisition through books can be like travelling to a cherished island where everything is vital despite the disasters and stresses of reality. Book lovers are more stress resistant and they always have a space for seclusion and relief. Young people who spend their time on the Internet also develop different skills and modern ability to manage the flow of information. However, they lack the natural motivation for the research process. They get everything as granted and imposed. The intrusion of mass media disperses attention and makes accumulation of spiritual energy nearly impossible. It is a problem that needs an urgent, sincere and profound discussion.
Another possible consequence is the shallowness of perception and tendency to minimization of language means in communication. People no longer focus on what they read but extract the necessary information from a text and then throw it away from their mind. The modern process of scanning the lines of the Internet texts is only a hybrid of perception. It requires to capture the general message and does not bring any artistic or spiritual satisfaction.
One more negative consequence is the loss of cultural values. The generations that grew up reading books seem to be archaic in the light of modern high-tech culture. At the same time the new generation seems to be illiterate and shallow in the ways of self-expression. The complexity of feelings and emotions seems to be out of fashion among young people who tend to simplification of thoughts, feelings and language forms. It is evident from the on-line chats and special computer slang language in messages with smiles and words contractions (“: ) 4u” for example).
Many facts from the modern media interchanges witness that people tend to create reality that works for their pleasure. They avoid profound consideration of their inner world, self-improvement and spiritual development. On the one hand, it is a contra reaction to the world overloaded with information. There is a tendency towards the economy of words and clearer expression of ideas, which helps to avoid prolonged explanations and association chains. On the other hand, it is a challenge to human spirituality. Young people constantly ask themselves about the possible profit from certain actions and efforts. They have no habit to look for inspiration and start projects only with a perspective of some material reward. They see no value in subconscious sufferings and complex feelings. They hesitate to create families and bring up children. The reason is a threat to their comfort and smooth well-being and avoidance of responsibility.
A close consideration of the possible consequences of neglecting literacy needs and adherence to on-line communication reveals the evidence of threats to the human perception of reality through language and the general tendency towards spiritual degradation on the background of computer science and technology progress. Modern education is impossible without implementation of computer science technologies. The new media technologies changed the vision of human reality and the ways of adaptation to its challenges. Youth mostly adhere to activities that bring them the feeling of protection and joy. However, being saturated, they can start experiencing dissatisfaction, frustration and helplessly look for sources of creativity. At this point a contradiction between the human purposes and intentions appears. The creation of a principally new product implies persistent inner work, strivings and an ability to face and overcome challenges. If a student is used to easy ways of getting information and carrying out projects, it becomes impossible for him/her to find sources of original ideas in his/her mind and experience. Profound reading of books, constant rethinking and evaluation of imaginary scenes and events put students in the place of the characters and imprint possible ways of behavior on their minds. Fiction and texts of humanitarian content help to form world view and critical thinking. It is crucial to form and develop an independent mind resistant to intrusive advertising values if a person wants to become competitive in the modern world and acquire adequate literacy in media space. Meaningful profound reading can help to become a creator, not just a consumer or puppet in a buy-sell on-line process. Without traditional literacy people are doomed to lose the ability to develop original content.