The Aliteracy Epidemic: When Literacy Takes a Backseat

In a world where information is at our fingertips and technology has revolutionised how we communicate and access knowledge, it is perplexing to witness the rise of a new trend – aliteracy. While we are familiar with the concepts of illiteracy and literacy, aliteracy represents a different challenge altogether. It refers to individuals who possess the ability to read and write but choose not to do so.

Traditionally, literacy has been seen as a fundamental skill essential for personal growth and societal progress. It is the ability to read and write, opening doors to education, information, and self-improvement. However, with the advent of the digital age, where information is delivered in shorter formats like tweets and videos, many have started neglecting the practice of reading. Aliteracy is not limited to a specific demographic; it affects people across age groups, including both young and old.

Aliteracy occurred with several supported factors, such as:

Digital Distractions: The presence of smartphones, social media, and streaming services has made it easier for people to divert their attention away from reading. Scrolling through social feeds or binge-watching TV shows often takes precedence over picking up a book.

Information Overload: The internet bombards us with overwhelming information daily. With so much content available, some individuals may feel overwhelmed and opt for bite-sized, easily digestible information rather than in-depth reading.

Declining Reading Habits: Aliteracy can be traced back to the decline in reading habits. People are reading less for leisure and opting for other forms of entertainment, leading to a loss of interest in books.

Instant Gratification: In the vast and fast-paced world, reading now requires longer to digest the knowledge. As people require a quick answer, reliance on technology, especially from search engines, is rather effective than having to go through reading a few reliable sources.

The increase in aliteracy in our society has caused various problems that could become even more serious in the future. This is a big concern, especially in education, because aliteracy can lead to bigger issues when people start working. Some of the consequences are including the following explanation:

Diminished Critical Thinking: Reading fosters critical thinking skills by encouraging individuals to analyse, question, and evaluate information. Aliterate individuals may lack these essential skills, making them susceptible to misinformation and manipulation.

Limited Knowledge and Creativity: Reading exposes individuals to diverse ideas, cultures, and perspectives. Aliteracy restricts their exposure, limiting their knowledge and creativity.

Decline in Empathy: Reading fiction has been linked to increased empathy as it allows readers to immerse themselves in different characters’ experiences. Aliterate individuals may miss out on this opportunity to develop empathy.

 Economic and Educational Disparities: Aliteracy can perpetuate economic and educational disparities, as those who do not read may struggle to keep up with the ever-changing demands of the job market and miss out on educational opportunities.

Dealing with aliteracy can be tricky because aliterate people can read and write, but they might not be good at thinking deeply or critically about what they read. There are a few ways of how to reduce aliteracy in our society.

Promoting Reading: Encouraging a culture of reading, especially from a young age, is crucial because it helps people develop a love for reading just for fun. Education institutions, libraries, and communities can play a significant role by organising reading programs and book clubs. These activities make reading enjoyable and a regular part of people’s lives.

Digital Literacy: Many young people today are very comfortable with technology. We can combine technology skills with reading to make reading more appealing to them. This means using e-books, audiobooks, and interactive reading apps. These digital tools make reading more exciting and accessible.

Setting an Example: Parents, teachers, and popular figures like celebrities can inspire others to read by showing that they enjoy reading too. When people we look up to read books, it encourages us to do the same. So, by leading by example, they can inspire a reading habit in others.

More Reading and Writing Exercises in Education: Another critical step is to include more reading and writing activities in class or educational institutions. When students practice reading and writing regularly, it becomes a natural part of their education. This helps them become better readers and writers, equipped with essential skills in today’s world.

Media Literacy: In today’s digital age, there is a lot of information online, but not all of it is accurate. To address this, we should teach people how to carefully think about and evaluate the information they find online. This way, they can tell the difference between reliable sources and false or misleading information. It helps people make smart choices about what they read and believe.

Aliteracy is a concerning trend in a world where reading should be more accessible than ever. To ensure that reading remains the window to knowledge and self-improvement, we must recognise the factors contributing to aliteracy and take active steps to promote a culture of reading. By addressing this issue, we can equip individuals with the skills and knowledge they need to navigate an increasingly complex and information-driven world.

About the Author:  


Programme Leader, School of Communication & Creative Design, SEGi College Sarawak 

Nabillah, a Programme Leader of the School of Communication & Creative Design at SEGi College Sarawak, possesses a career that effortlessly intertwines the education sector with the dynamic communication industry, bestowing her with a wealth of knowledge and expertise. In the course of her professional journey, Nabillah has consistently reached the pinnacle of excellence. Her varied roles, which include serving as a Corporate Affairs Lead and Marketing Executive, have been crucibles for refining her skills in communication strategies. Her impressive expertise spans a broad spectrum, covering workplace communication, interpersonal skills, and the art of public speaking. 


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