Who’s okay with illiteracy; raise your hand…

I’m not; I can tell you that much right now. I’ve been an avid reader, my entire life. I can’t imagine the day my mind gives up on me. Feel free to raise your hand, if you’re so inclined, and I’ll happily take you out back and slap you around with my dictionary, like a mad pimp ‘o’ words.

In all seriousness, though, I’ve noticed the prevalence of symbols in lieu of words on a growing number of household products, lately, further encouraging us to interpret through imagery, as opposed to words. Here’s what spanked me out of my doldrums; I moved to mute the TV (not turn it off, God forbid, only mute it, but we’ll address that, later); and had a hard time finding the ‘MUTE’ button. The problem is not so much the fact that I experienced difficulty finding it, as much as the reason I had trouble. The remote didn’t have that little speaker-with-a-line-through-it symbol, just the word, ‘mute’. How sad is that?

It made me think about how much I take that particular image for granted, in that, I looked for it long before it occurred to me to look for those four little letters. M-U-T-E. They’re not terribly difficult to recognize, really, unless the only thing you’ve seen for the last four or five years, has been the aforementioned icon. That damned speaker with the line through it, like some new brand of ‘No Smoking’ sign.

Even if this is just to make illiterate people feel better, or know what button on the remote is what, this irks me. Why would we encourage people to never learn to read, through action taken to make life easier for those, who can’t read? That’s awful. If they’re watching TV, they should be picking up an old ‘Dick and Jane’, instead. It’s absurd to imagine that we should cater to this form of disability. It’s a disability, because those who are unable to read can choose to learn it at any time, yet, they are actively not attempting it. There’s no way any TV company should be condoning such apathy, regardless of revenue concerns.

If this is some sad, pitiful, passive-aggressive attempt at making the American public even dumber than we already are, it doesn’t surprise me, but it does sadden me. Unfortunately, it may be working. It certainly got me, for a minute, there.

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