My husband and I had a workman in yesterday to run some wiring for new cable hookup in our office. Our office is in what would normally be considered the master bedroom. We chose that room because it is large, bright, and met our needs better than any other room in the house. Anyway, like most writers, the room is also lined with shelves on which I have hundreds of books sitting/piled/stacked.
So the man comes in and, according to hubby (I wasn't there), takes a look at the shelves and says "Wow. You have a lot of movies."
Movies??? Okay, I guess the old VCR tape boxes look like book covers. But I don't just have paperback books. I've got books of all sizes and types.
After a touch of surprise, my husband set the man straight and then went on to brag about me a little informing the guy that I am a writer and even showed off my latest book to him.
But rather than laugh over the incident, hubby and I were saddened. Now, granted, my husband is not a heavy reader. It was not encouraged in his home, in fact, often discouraged. But he knows the importance of books and especially what they mean to me. And our children were raised with a love of books.
What really saddens me is that this man who thought I had amassed huge numbers of movies is not alone. Too often, I hear "Oh, I don't like to read." or "I don't like books." Or other similar statements. This bothers me not just because I'm a writer, but because it also underscores what I believe is the literary decline of society. And I'm not talking about reading "high-brow" books, but, rather, the nearly illiterate writing skills of society in general these days. Highly placed business people who can barely spell or teachers who don't know the difference between a colon and semicolon. People who can't figure out the difference between homophones (they're, their, there).
My son was at a job-hunting seminar a few weeks ago and noted a misspelling on one of the handouts. During a break in the session, he quietly pointed it out to the presenter. Instead of being thankful, she got huffy with him and informed him that five people had proofed that paper and all said it was okay. Unfortunately, all five of them (actually, six if you count the presenter), were wrong. The word was definitely misspelled. And these were people who were showing others how to present themselves.
I realize we all make mistakes. Typos and the mistaken word creep in, especially when we are in a hurry (as we all seem to be these days) or our typing doesn't keep up with our thoughts. These are minor incidents in a major deterioration.
As I said, a sad state of affairs. Literacy is important. Spelling. Grammar. Diction. And, unfortunately, with people who should know better at the top of the ladder, I don't see it getting any better.