The Working World: France gave workers the right to disconnect—but is it helping?

Source: The Working World: France gave workers the right to disconnect—but is it helping?

By

Some days seem like an endless stream of pings from the minute you wake ‘til the minute you pass out with your phone in your hand.

“In France, the economic crisis of 2007 reinforced the pressure on workers. This resulted in less employment and more work for those with a job.”—Héloïse Boungnasith

One year after its implementation, some question whether the law is too vague to be effective.

To keep from crossing the line, managers are striving to be extra clear about what needs an immediate response.

“More often than not, when you work for an international company and you work across time zones, you’re still compelled to work beyond 6:00 pm.”—Micha Sprinz

Is Social Media Bad for You?

Research links excessive Facebook or Instagram use to depression and loneliness.

Source: Is Social Media Bad for You?

By  Loren Soeiro, Ph.D. ABPP

At any given moment, something like 40 percent of the world’s population—up to three billion people—are using Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or another social media app or website. Most people spend an average of two hours a day on these platforms: sharing photos, commenting on those of others, tweeting their opinions, or simply checking in on what the people in their networks are doing.

And yet, it’s become something of a truism that too-frequent social media use is bad for one’s health. No less of a social media darling than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose upstart political campaign was buoyed by Facebook, has come out against the network, calling it a “public health risk.” Forget about the instances of rampant harassment on Twitter; for anecdotal data on the downside of social media, ask almost any Instagram user whether he or she has ever experienced FOMO—fear of missing out—after viewing the extravagant photos posted by a random acquaintance. Can we generalize from FOMO? Can social media really be bad for your psychological health?

First off, the use of social media has been shown to correlate with loneliness, with heavy users being twice as likely to report social isolation. On the other hand, even if these users aren’t physically or emotionally separated from the important people in their lives, they may still feel that way: More time spent on the most commonly used social networks correlates to higher feelings of loneliness and isolation. Studies have also shown that higher social media use is associated with higher anxiety. It’s important to note that these studies do not prove causation: It’s possible that higher social media use is caused by loneliness and anxiety, and not the other way around.

Also, the ability to feel good about oneself—to have healthy self-esteem—may be compromised by social media use. Survey studies have suggestedthat Facebook use leaves over 60 percent of users feeling inadequate. A 2012 survey, billed as “Sweden’s largest Facebook study,” found an inverse correlation between Facebook use and self-confidence among female users, and suggested that Facebook use is associated with reduced happiness for women. In some studies, it looks as though some women often compare themselves to others on Facebook, and that they often believe that these people are more attractive. This affects their body image, chips away at their self-esteem, and contributes to weighing them down emotionally.

Generally speaking, Facebook provokes an awful lot of negative self-comparison just like this—that is, comparing oneself to others and deciding that their lives must be happier or better than yours. The problem is, even if you judge your life to be the better one, you’re still not likely to feel happy about this, because any kind of self-comparison has a negative effect on one’s moods. And if you feel some envy while you’re scrolling through your friends’ photos, you may be picking up on a real link between social media use and depressed mood. Feelings of envy may be the mediating link between Facebook use and depression: In studies that manage to control for envy by eliminating it as a factor, Facebook use doesn’t correlate with depression in the same way.

The connection between social media use and clinical depression, broadly speaking, is real. Even brief Facebook use can make people feel bad, as a recent Austrian study has shown: Just checking out your feed for 20 minutes—rather than randomly browsing the internet—instigates sad or depressing feelings. (I unscientifically tested this effect while writing this article, and sure enough, it worked.)

Some evidence suggests the more time you spend on social media, the worse you’ll feel: The persons who use social media platforms most often have been shown to be three times as likely to harbor feelings of depression and anxiety. Its users tend to report feeling worse about themselves from one minute to the next, and increased Facebook use even correlates with reports of reduced life satisfaction overall.

So consider taking a break from social media. You won’t even have to quit entirely; studies show that just avoiding Facebook for a short time can provide a significant boost to a person’s sense of well-being.

If you’ve been feeling depressed lately, be aware that limiting one’s social media use to 30 minutes a day may significantly improve mood after three weeks. Taking time away from social media is likely to make you feel less lonely and less depressed. It should cut down on feelings of FOMO and unhealthy envy, and can reinvigorate the self-affirming belief that your own life is as worthy and enjoyable as the lives of others—no matter how photogenic they are.

(Author’s note: If you are aware of feeling seriously depressed or suicidal, please consider seeking immediate professional help.)

References

Brown, J. (2018, January 5).  Is social media bad for you? The evidence and the unknowns.  Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180104-is-social-media-bad-for-you-the-evidence-and-the-unknowns

Gothenburg Research Institute.  (2012).  Sweden’s largest facebook study.  Retrieved from https://gupea.ub.gu.se/bitstream/2077/28893/1/gupea_2077_28893_1.pdf

Hogue, J. V. & Mills, J.S. (2019). The effects of active social media engagement with peers on body image in young women. Body Image, 28, pp. 1-5.

Kross E., et al. (2013) Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults. PLOS ONE 8(8): e69841.

Kuss, D. J. & Griffiths, M. D.  (2011).  Online Social Networking and Addiction—A Review of the Psychological Literature. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 8(9), pp. 3528-3552

Mai-Ly, N. et al. (2014). Seeing Everyone Else’s Highlight Reels: How Facebook Usage is Linked to Depressive Symptoms. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology: 33(8) pp. 701-731.

Mander, J. (2017, May 16).  Daily Time Spent on Social Networks Rises to Over 2 Hours.  Retrieved from https://blog.globalwebindex.com/chart-of-the-day/daily-time-spent-on-social-networks/

Meikle, J.  (2012, February 3).  Twitter is harder to resist than cigarettes and alcohol, study finds. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/feb/03/twitter-resist-cigarettes-alcohol-study

Mendoza, M.  (2014, July 26).  Social media make people feel inadequate, jealous: survey.  Retrieved from https://www.techtimes.com/articles/11232/20140726/social-media-make-people-feel-inadequate-jealous-survey.htm

Morris, C.  (2019, April 15).  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Quitting Facebook.  Retrieved from http://fortune.com/2019/04/15/aoc-ocasio-cortez-quits-facebook/

Primack, B. A. (2017). Social Media Use and Perceived Social Isolation Among Young Adults in the U.S.  American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 53(1), pp. 1-8.

Reed P., et al. (2017) Differential physiological changes following internet exposure in higher and lower problematic internet users. PLOS ONE 12(5): e0178480

Sagioglu, C. & Greitemeyer, T.  (2014).  Facebook’s emotional consequences: Why Facebook causes a decrease in mood and why people still use it.  Computers in Human Behavior, 35, pp. 359-363.

Tandoc, E. C, Ferrucci, P., & Duffy, M. (2015).  Facebook use, envy, and depression among college students: Is facebooking depressing?  Computers in Human Behavior, 43, pp. 139-146

Tromholt, M. (2016). The facebook experiment: quitting Facebook leads to higher levels of well-being. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 19 (11), 661-666.

Walton, A. G. (2018, November 16).  New research shows just how bad social media can be for mental health.  Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2018/11/16/new-research-shows-just-how-bad-social-media-can-be-for-mental-health/#1e2d0e547af4

Loren Soeiro, Ph.D., ABPP, is a psychologist in private practice in New York City, specializing in helping people find success, fulfillment, and peace in their relationships and their work.

The 6 Most Passive-Aggressive Email Phrases You Use Without Thinking, According to a Recent Study

 

An ounce of prevention will keep you from sending the wrong message when you hit ‘Send.’

Source: The 6 Most Passive-Aggressive Email Phrases You Use Without Thinking, According to a Recent Study

By Scott Mautz  Keynote speaker and author, ‘Find the Fire’ and ‘Make It Matter’

Ahh, the art of the email. I’ve always found it to be a terrible medium for communicating--so much can be misconstrued from an unintentionally curt sentence, a light-hearted capitalization–heck, even an emoji that doesn’t convey your mojo the way you meant.

These are the three biggest problems we create for ourselves with email:

  1. We don’t communicate enough to get the point across (the biggest problem with communication in general is the illusion that it has actually taken place)
  2. We’re not clear enough with the communication
  3. Our communication is taken the wrong way (with irritation or offense)

This last one most often happens when we use terms in email that are, in reality, seen as passive-aggressive by the recipient. A recent 1,000-person study by the email platform GetResponse revealed the top 6 phrases perceived as the most passive-aggressive by the receiver.

I’ll reveal them from the least offensive to the most offensive. You can decide to use this information to help you avoid coming across as passively aggressive, or the opposite, depending on your mood.

6. “Going forward I’d prefer…”

Guess what? Going forward the person who reads this line would prefer you not use it again. The “going forward” part is super passive aggressive because it assumes that what happened in the past didn’t work. The reader reads, “Look, what happened in the past is the past, but you can, and will, correct it in the future.” It’s assumptive and dismissive. Even the “I’d prefer” part is weak; it’s language someone uses when they’re beating around the bush on something.

An alternative (and, again, all alternatives that follow are based on the assumption you actually don’t want to come across passive-aggressive, but if that really is your intent, fire away): The alternative here is a good ol’ fashioned face-to-face conversation. When it comes to behavior changes that need to happen, don’t do it over email. Asking change of someone involves emotions, which are always better handled in person.

5. “According to my records…”

Ugh–so formal and uptight sounding. Is this a cross-examination or an email?

An alternative: “I honestly could have this wrong, but from what I think I know…,” or, “The way I see it is…” Fellow columnist Carmine Gallo wrote a great piece on how Tim Cook uses the power of these 5 words, “The way I see it…”

4. “Any updates on this?”

When I read this, I can’t help but picture the sender standing there by my cubicle, peering over the top of it with arms crossed, feet tapping, and a resting jerk face painted on. Try this test: Say “Any updates on this?” out loud to yourself without sounding snippy. Impossible.

An alternative: “I’m guessing you’re swamped–so, sorry to bug you, but what’s the latest on… It would help to know because…” Being brief in email is key so I’m not preaching verbosity here, but this one requires a bit more couching.

3. “Please let me know if I’ve misunderstood.”

What you’re really saying here is “We both know you’ve got this wrong.” This one is the most disingenuous of the lot because the recipient knows that you do not think you have it wrong in any way, shape, or form.

An alternative: If you actually do suspect you got something wrong, pick up the phone for this one. Misunderstandings tend to get more tangled when not ironed out in person. But if you do use email, consider, “I honestly could have this wrong, but…”

2. “Just a friendly reminder…”

It’s not friendly. You know it and I know it.

An alternative: “I honestly hate when people bug me about something, but I’m forced to be ‘that guy/girl’ here in reminding you that… because…”

1. “As per my last email…”

You may as well say, “You obviously didn’t read my last email, so let me try again, dummy.” This one is just plain rude and smacks of the assumption that the recipient has nothing better to do than to sit around waiting for your email to flow into their inbox like gorgeous salmon swimming upstream.

An alternative: “If you don’t mind my reinforcing a point I made before, only because it’s so important…”

We all get enough emails. No one wants more than they need, nor do they want them peppered with what more or less amounts to sass. You can still get your point across by using alternatives.

So, before you hit send, think of the message you’re sending.

Meformer or Informer: What kind of person are you on social networks?

On the Internet there are basically two types of persons: meformer or informer.  Discover what is the difference between the two.

Source: ▷ Meformer or Informer: What kind of person are you on social networks?

By JENNIFER DELGADO

We are different, we have different values, goals and interests, which shines through our way of communicating, also in social networks. In fact, we do not all use social networks in the same way or for the same purposes, as revealed by a very interesting study conducted at the University of Rutgers. These researchers believe that social networks are basically made up of two types of people: “meformers” and “informers.”

According to their study, the 80% of social network users are meformers and only 20% are informers. Each one communicates completely differently, uses his social networks with dissimilar objectives and establishes different relationships with his contacts and followers.

Who are the informers?

Traditionally, self-consciousness has been referred to self-knowledge, but psychologist Tasha Eurich believes that there are actually two types of self-consciousness. There would be an inner consciousness, which is one that allows us to capture and understand our emotions and thoughts, and an outer consciousness, which would allow us to understand how others perceive us.

In fact, there are people who, although they have an extraordinary inner harmony, are not fully aware of how the others see them. There are also people who, although they are aware of how the others perceive them, do not have a great inner vision.

According to this psychologist, only a small percentage of people are fully aware of their inner states and the perception that the others have. These are people who have developed a balanced awareness between inside and outside. The interesting thing is that these people also use social networks differently, basically to inform and share valuable and useful information, both for themselves and for a large majority of people. They are the informers.

According to researchers at Rutgers University, reporters often use social networks to share different types of information, opinions, articles or images that are interesting or curious for the community. The reporters are communicative, respond to other users and usually have a greater number of followers, probably due to the interest generated by the content they share.

Often these are also people who produce original content. In fact, it is estimated that only 1% of the people who use the Internet create content while the rest is dedicated to consuming it, often without interacting.

Another study conducted at the University of Brunel revealed another characteristic of the informers: those who usually share eminently intellectual content have also greater mental openness; that is, they are more open to new ideas and experiences, as well as to discuss different topics.

Who are the meformers?

Approximately 80% of people are meformers; that is, those who are dedicated to publish about themselves. Their profiles on social networks are a kind of digitized diary that they share with the world.

They usually publish the places they go, what they eat, what they do and who they are with at all times. They are people who pour their daily life in social networks with a highly egocentric approach, sometimes falling into narcissistic tendencies.

In fact, researchers at Brunel University provide more details about the characteristics of these people. They discovered that those who publish more frequently, mainly about their social activities and daily life, tend to be more outgoing people. However, those who consistently published about their achievements and progress had more narcissistic features and needed external validation.

Although meformers tend to have fewer followers, usually half that of the informers, since they are limited to their network of friends, these people also tend to develop a stronger bond with their contacts.

Sources:

Romagnoli, G. (2019) Psicologia dei social: esistono “2 tipi di persone” che comunicano online… tu quale sei? In: Psinel.

Marshall, T. C. et. Al. (2015) The Big Five, self-esteem, and narcissism as predictors of the topics people write about in Facebook status updates. Personality and Individual Differences; 85: 35-40.

Naaman, M. et. Al. (2010) Is it Really About Me? Message Content in Social Awareness Streams. Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work.Savannah: Georgia.

 

JENNIFER DELGADO

I am a psychologist and I spent several years writing articles for scientific journals specialized in Health and Psychology. I want to help you create great experiences. Learn more about me.

Attention, Students: Put Your Laptops Away

Researchers Pam Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer found that students remember more via taking notes longhand rather than on a laptop. It has to do with what happens when you’re forced to slow down.

Source: Attention, Students: Put Your Laptops Away

Heard on Weekend Edition Sunday

JAMES DOUBEK

As laptops become smaller and more ubiquitous, and with the advent of tablets, the idea of taking notes by hand just seems old-fashioned to many students today. Typing your notes is faster — which comes in handy when there’s a lot of information to take down. But it turns out there are still advantages to doing things the old-fashioned way.

For one thing, research shows that laptops and tablets have a tendency to be distracting — it’s so easy to click over to Facebook in that dull lecture. And a study has shown that the fact that you have to be slower when you take notes by hand is what makes it more useful in the long run.

In the study published in Psychological Science, Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles sought to test how note-taking by hand or by computer affects learning.

“When people type their notes, they have this tendency to try to take verbatim notes and write down as much of the lecture as they can,” Mueller tells NPR’s Rachel Martin. “The students who were taking longhand notes in our studies were forced to be more selective — because you can’t write as fast as you can type. And that extra processing of the material that they were doing benefited them.”

Mueller and Oppenheimer cited that note-taking can be categorized two ways: generative and nongenerative. Generative note-taking pertains to “summarizing, paraphrasing, concept mapping,” while nongenerative note-taking involves copying something verbatim.

And there are two hypotheses to why note-taking is beneficial in the first place. The first idea is called the encoding hypothesis, which says that when a person is taking notes, “the processing that occurs” will improve “learning and retention.” The second, called the external-storage hypothesis, is that you learn by being able to look back at your notes, or even the notes of other people.

Because people can type faster than they write, using a laptop will make people more likely to try to transcribe everything they’re hearing. So on the one hand, Mueller and Oppenheimer were faced with the question of whether the benefits of being able to look at your more complete, transcribed notes on a laptop outweigh the drawbacks of not processing that information. On the other hand, when writing longhand, you process the information better but have less to look back at.

For their first study, they took university students (the standard guinea pig of psychology) and showed them TED talks about various topics. Afterward, they found that the students who used laptops typed significantly more words than those who took notes by hand. When testing how well the students remembered information, the researchers found a key point of divergence in the type of question. For questions that asked students to simply remember facts, like dates, both groups did equally well. But for “conceptual-application” questions, such as, “How do Japan and Sweden differ in their approaches to equality within their societies?” the laptop users did “significantly worse.”

The same thing happened in the second study, even when they specifically told students using laptops to try to avoid writing things down verbatim. “Even when we told people they shouldn’t be taking these verbatim notes, they were not able to overcome that instinct,” Mueller says. The more words the students copied verbatim, the worse they performed on recall tests.

And to test the external-storage hypothesis, for the third study they gave students the opportunity to review their notes in between the lecture and test. The thinking is, if students have time to study their notes from their laptops, the fact that they typed more extensive notes than their longhand-writing peers could possibly help them perform better.

But the students taking notes by hand still performed better. “This is suggestive evidence that longhand notes may have superior external storage as well as superior encoding functions,” Mueller and Oppenheimer write.

Do studies like these mean wise college students will start migrating back to notebooks?

“I think it is a hard sell to get people to go back to pen and paper,” Mueller says. “But they are developing lots of technologies now like Livescribe and various stylus and tablet technologies that are getting better and better. And I think that will be sort of an easier sell to college students and people of that generation.”

 

15 brands millennials loved that ‘kids these days’ avoid

consumer psychology research

Gen Zs have ditched Lacoste for Nike  Sophia Grace/YouTube

Millennials loved Abercrombie and Facebook, but Gen Zs tend to wear fast fashion and athleisure.

Source: 15 brands millennials loved that ‘kids these days’ avoid

By Rachel Premack, Business Insider

  • Millennials loved preppy clothes and Facebook. 
  • But Gen Zs tend to wear fast fashion and athleisure. They’ve also dumped Facebook for Snapchat and Instagram.
  • Read on to see the 15 brands millennials loved as teens that haven’t captured today’s youth.  

When hitting the mall, millennials leaned towards preppy brands like Ralph Lauren.

But today’s teens are all about streetwear, athleisure, and fast fashion — Nike, Adidas, and Forever 21 dominate the Gen Z shopping cart.

Using insights from asset management firm Piper Jaffray’s semi-annual Taking Stock With Teens survey and Bobby Calise, VP of brand tracking at the youth insights firm Ypulse, Business Insider curated a list of 15…

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Why ceasing to be creative is a mistake

Photo by gustavo centurion on Unsplash

Even drawing stick figures has its benefits.

Source: Why ceasing to be creative is a mistake

By

  • Many of us stop making art at a young age, convinced, perhaps, that we just don’t have the talent for it.
  • This belief, however, may be wrong, and the benefits that producing art can bring aren’t contingent on talent.
  • Is creating art an activity that all of us should pursue? Can artistic skill be taught?

When we think of life skills, we usually think of things like learning to cook, becoming financially literate, learning to de-escalate conflict, or cultivating our emotional intelligence. We don’t typically think of becoming better artists as a life skill. Indeed, artistic talent is seen as something innate — Some people are artists, and some people are not.

However, for those of us who profess to have no artistic talent whatsoever, it may be that cultivating this skill is even more important than for those who have, allegedly, “innate” artistic talent. So, is creating art a life skill? What kind of benefits can it bring? And, crucially, can it be taught, or is the act of creating something limited only to the lucky few?

Our innate love of art

In a cave in Indonesia, there are outlines of human hands traced in paint. To date, these tracings are the oldest example of art, dating back nearly 40,000 years ago. Human beings don’t consistently perform an activity for 40,000 unless its hardwired into us, and making art is something that is as human as communicating, laughing, or breathing air.

In an April interview with the Harvard Gazette, Dr. Ellen Winner, a psychologist who has studied art, said:

“My best guess is that art itself is not a direct product of natural selection, but is a byproduct of our bigger brains — which themselves evolved for survival reasons. Art is just something we cannot help but do. While we may not need art to survive, our lives would be entirely different without it. The arts are a way of making sense of and understanding ourselves and others, a form of meaning-making just as important as are the sciences.”

A sense of aesthetic appreciation is so innate in humans that we easily distinguish between and prefer abstract art created by a master (those paintings with, say, a few splotches of color that look like anybody could do it) over artificially generated copies or abstract works of art created by children and animals.

So, one big argument for pursuing your artistic capability is simply because it’s a natural, human thing to do. The odds are good you going to make something creative at some point, so why not develop that ability further? This in and of itself doesn’t serve as a particularly compelling reason, but there are plenty of benefits that producing art can bring.

The physical and mental benefits of making art

 

Research has shown that producing art has a positive impact on human psychology. One study compared two groups that spent 10 weeks doing an art-related activity. The first group produced visual art in a class, while the second spent time cognitively evaluating artwork at a museum. After the 10-week intervention, the researchers compared the groups using an MRI.

They found that the art production group had significantly more connections in a critical part of the brain called the default mode network. The default mode network is associated with a variety of functions, such as reflecting on one’s emotional state, empathy, and imagining the future. Not only was this important part of the brain strengthened by producing art, but the participants in the art-production group also became better able to cope with stress.

Other research has shown that producing visual art diminishes the experience of negative emotions and increases positive ones and reduces depression, stress, and anxiety. There appears to be a significant connection between producing visual art and physical health as well, especially since visual art production has been linked with reducing cortisol, the hormone associated with stress.

In older adults, participating in art classes improved their perception of their health and made them more active. They also visited their doctors more frequently and required less medication.

Can art be taught?

It’s clear that producing art can improve cognitive function and physical health, but for those who don’t believe they have artistic talent, these findings may just represent a missed opportunity. Some believe that art can’t be taught. First, it’s important to remember that the studies referenced previously randomly assigned people to produce artwork; none of those individuals were selected for any innate artistic talent, and so the benefits found by those studies can be acquired by anybody.

Many artists believe that while anybody can be taught art to some extent, artistic geniuses are born rather than made. “There is no question in my mind that artists are born,” says Nancy Locke, a professor of art history at Penn State. But, she argues, its crucial to cultivate this innate talent.

Research backs this up to some extent. In the Big Five personality theory, the trait of “openness to experience” — or the trait that predicts whether an individual enjoys getting out of their comfort zone and seeking out unfamiliar experiences — has been shown to be associated with preferences for artistic activities. Psychologists believe that personality traits such as openness to experience are a combination of both genetics and the environment, so it’s fair to say that artistic talent is indeed innate to some extent.

What does this mean for the aspiring artist? The scientific literature referenced above suggests that the many benefits of art production can be gained simply be practicing art regardless of talent. And, since even those with innate talents can’t go very far in art without practice, it may be the case that you possess such talent but have never cultivated it.

The cognitive benefits of creating art aren’t even contingent on skill. The next time you have to attend a lecture or study something, allow yourself to doodle in the margins: Studies have shown that you’ll be 29 percent more likely to recall information and less likely to daydream.

Increasingly, the idea that producing art is some mysterious, unknowable process is diminishing. Instead, creating art is more akin to the visual analog of writing; everybody needs to write a little in the course of their day, not just great writers. Similarly, we should acknowledge that everybody needs to create a bit of art every day, either for greater recall, improved cognition, to reduce stress, or simply for the natural pleasure of creating something.

Americans Don’t Read . . .  and That’s Affecting Our Elections

“How can any Man judge, unless his Mind has been opened and enlarged by Reading?” – John Adams

Source: Americans Don’t Read… and That’s Affecting Our Elections

By  Annie Holmquist

In 2013, the Nation’s Report Card showed that only 38% of high school seniors were proficient in reading. With scores like that, the U.S. isn’t likely to earn the “most literate country” award any time soon.

So what is America’s international literacy ranking? According to The Washington Post, the U.S. places seventh behind Nordic countries such as Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Such a score is obtained by looking at newspaper circulation and readership, library availability, education access, reading scores, and computer usage in each nation.

The Washington Post bemoans the fact that the leading nation of the free world ranks so low in such an important area. And well they should, particularly as the following U.S. literacy statistics are even more alarming:

  • 14% of adults can’t read.
  • Only 13% of adults can read at a proficient level.
  • 28% of adults didn’t read a book in the last year.
  • 50% of adults can’t read a book written at an 8th grade level.

But so what, right? In our enlightened digital age, what harm does it really bring if American literacy is tanking?

A lot of harm, according to John Adams, particularly when it comes to elections. In 1761, he noted:

“The very Ground of our Liberties, is the freedom of Elections. Every Man has in Politicks as well as Religion, a Right to think and speak and Act for himself. No man either King or Subject, Clergyman or Layman has any Right to dictate to me the Person I shall choose for my Legislator and Ruler. I must judge for myself, but how can I judge, how can any Man judge, unless his Mind has been opened and enlarged by Reading. A Man who can read, will find in his Bible, in the common sermon Books that common People have by them and even in the Almanack and News Papers, Rules and observations, that will enlarge his Range of Thought, and enable him the better to judge who has and who has not that Integrity of Heart, and that Compass of Knowledge and Understanding, which form the Statesman.”

Considering the state of the modern election circus, would you say it’s high time for Americans to step up their literacy game?

 

In her spare time Annie enjoys the outdoors, gardening, reading, and events with family and friends.