Is the written word disappearing?

Due to the rise of the internet and the increase in television outputs, there are some who have warned us that the written word is disappearing before us in a rush of blogs and internet updates. This could be true as newspaper readership has started declining and many schools have been criticised for their poor levels of reading in students. Could it be true that the written word is becoming obsolete?

According to Clint Reilly, the San Francisco Chronical  has lost $350 million since 2000 and 35% of staff have been laid off. This decline in the press could be because many now go to the internet for their updated news and even journalist have been known to use twitter for leads on news stories. From an outside perspective, it could be true that the written word is in decline. I can’t remember the last time I managed to read a book properly or read a book that wasn’t advertised on the television or had been made into a film already. The written word is powerful. It describes stories and lives in far greater detail and has been the basis for many successful films, such as ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary‘ and ‘Atonement‘.

Even printed word, such as magazines, have become more involved with celebrity lifestyle culture and choice gossip. According to Amy Henderson, from the Organization of American Histories, “This shift, reflecting in part the vast cultural changes wrought by the communications revolution of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and by the rise of immigration and urbanization between 1890 and the 1920s, says a great deal about the nation’s continuing need for self-definition, and about the culture which contributed to this search.” Is it our defining needs that take us into a celebrity culture? If so, this could be one of the reasons why the printed and written word has become less popular in recent years.

This in turn has affected the future of reading and literacy. Ofsted commented in November, 2010 that literacy standards “fall short” of the achievable levels in the UK. They also commented that “one in five is not at the level expected for English at age 11”. This could be a slippery slope when it comes to the future of writing. If children now are in a declining age of literacy then this gives us little hope for the future. Whilst it could be argued that the Government are trying new schemes to help these levels, more is needed to improve future generations.

Thought is the internet entirely to blame? Since the rise of the internet, it could be argued that it has given millions of writers a chance to display their work and receive praise for their standards of writing. The Government has also used the internet in many schemes built to improve reading and writing for children in the UK.

If it is true that there is a decline in the written word for children and adults then I believe it is up to the individual. Unfortunately, you can’t make masses do what you want and so the only alternative is to try to help. Many criticise the internet but then it has opened up an entire new world for lovers of literature and given the opportunity to help struggling writers have their work recognised. It is also a faster alternative, in suiting with our fast culture. If there are still those who want to make the written word as powerful as it once was then I suggest you make the difference in yourself by buying the newspaper or book you choose and enjoying the words. In this fast culture, we all need something to slow us down.

2 Comments to “Is the written word disappearing?”

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