Do you have a dollar? Good. I have a HUGE investment opportunity for you. You’re reading this right now, which means you CAN read. You can read because someone taught you. Do you even realize how fucking lucky you are to have that? Now pay it forward. LeVar Burton started this Kickstarter campaign to promote not only literacy, but a bona fide love of reading.
I’ve been fortunate enough to make my living via the written word for several years now. Journalist. Screenwriter. Copywriter. Of the latter: copywriting in the digital age has evolved into a particularly ugly animal. I’ve lost track of the number of clients and bosses who’ve declared boldly, to my face (usually whilst I’m grappling with finding the perfect words on their brand’s behalf): “Well, it doesn’t really matter. People don’t read anymore, anyway.”
We writers are, admittedly, a sensitive bunch, BUT fortunately I’ve changed how I choose to react to such an idiotic declaration. What I used to greet with a soul-crushing sadness is now marinated in incredulousness over the existence of anyone who chooses to broadcast their willful stupidity with such a sense of pride. I call bullshit!
For purposes of this argument, I’m not picking on people who, through circumstances beyond their control, weren’t taught to read. I’m not making fun of genuine illiteracy, as that would be taking the incredible privilege I’ve been born into for granted. Actual illiteracy has ties to poverty, and that’s an entirely different can of worms. (Just another reason why LeVar Burton’s project is SO important.) But among people who’ve been privileged to get an education, so many still choose to broadcast this “people don’t read anymore” crap like (a) it’s a fact (just because THEY don’t read doesn’t mean that applies to the entire planet….who appointed THEM boss of all of humanity?!) and (b) being “too busy” to read is some sort of badge of honor. Reading is a gift, not a chore. Also, reading makes you smarter. Only a dumb-ass would react to the prospect of becoming smarter with ANY variation of, “No thanks. Not for me.”
To a small extent, the haters do have a point. Yes, there are people who don’t read. Lazy people don’t read. Voluntarily ignorant people don’t read. Narrow-minded people don’t read. (I could go on. I have LOTS of descriptive words at my disposal. Why? BECAUSE I READ, BITCHES!)
But why as a society should we allow those kinds of people – lazy, ignorant, narrow-minded – to set the standard?
So donate something to this. Anything. At least what you’d spend on a measly latte, for fuck’s sake. It’ll be a particularly eloquent way to call bullshit.