When I found the picture associated with this blog, it provoked some profound thoughts. Namely, how much of my intelligence or success can be indirectly linked to the time I used to spend reading things like cereal boxes, shampoo bottles, and odd catalogs when I had nothing else to do to pass time?
My deepest pondering on the topic was this: Is it possible that literacy and intelligence were directly and positively influenced by reading materials that people used to find and consume passively?
If so, we’re doomed. An entire generation (today’s school kids) may never wonder what sodium lauryl sulfate is, nor will they contemplate whether their hair would really look “shiny and replenished” if only they washed twice in a rich lather, as suggested. Instead, as today’s kids move their bowels, they send “snaps” of their best toilet-selfie face and play Fortnite until the toilet seat leaves a semi-permanent imprint on their butts.
The same goes for breakfast time. When the brain isn’t fully awake yet, does a child’s reading about the recommended daily allowance of Riboflavin on the Cheerios box increase his or her intelligence in the long run? If so, will “beating Thanos” on his mobile device serve as a replacement brain stimulus? Or are we just doomed?
I’m going to argue that a childhood of passive reading – whether on the toilet, at the breakfast table, in the dentist’s office, or even in the car as road signs whizzed by – contributed measurably to the making of who I am today.
And I’m also going to argue that the unsolicited education from all that passive reading was much more enriching than the solicited, active swiping that today’s young people do when they otherwise should be learning how to be bored.