Communication is an incredibly versatile art form that extends to all facets and timelines of life. Visually, animals tend to communicate through body language, using gestures and facial expressions to signify entire messages and intentions. Without saying a word, you know if someone smells something foul, is particularly fond of their meal, or even if they have some juicy information about your friend last night.
Visual communication extends beyond primitive bodily movements to entire languages built on sophisticated gestures: sign language. By simply moving your hands and fingers around, you are able to communicate in many different languages (without having to stumble over an accent, too).
Of course, audible communication is the most common of forms, speaking being pretty much the single most important tool in any communicator’s arsenal. The spoken word has extended to include countless different dialects of different languages in different regions of different countries on different continents around the world. Beyond just words, voice inflections and onomatopoeic sounds do wonders in communicating ideas and sentiments on their own, especially through a language barrier.
Of course, with this age of technology, communication is even simpler. We can send audio messages in nanoseconds, send videos on a variety of platforms, hold livestreams, have online video conference calls, and, of course, engage in the classic phone call. There is no shortage of means of communication through visual and audible means.
Countless other forms of communication exist (as musicians and mathematicians alike would surely assert), but note that I have not yet mentioned script or print.
As our society and civilizations advance, perhaps we are moving away from the relevance of the written word. I’ve personally seen an increase in audio messages being sent over text messages, especially in lieu of a longer, more sophisticated message such as an in-depth explanation, or anything that would take more than a few words or sentences to describe. Video ads begin to take over the internet, forcefully making themselves more noticeable than their printed counterparts. Billions of phone calls are made each day, vastly outnumbering the number of letters sent in a day. Even some classrooms are moving away from written assignments, and focusing more on student interaction and audio-visual assignments.
The world is always changing and, as the slang I can never keep up with tells me, so are our means of communication. There has certainly been a decrease in the prevalence of the written word in our everyday communication as these audio and video messages become more lazily-accessible. We tend to want to exert the least amount of effort as possible in everyday tasks, and holding down one button to speak is certainly less effortful than typing out every world.
Maybe one day, maybe soon, we might see the written word become a novelty, or even vanish completely.
Maybe, just maybe, it isn’t that big of a deal that our President can’t read.