Design a site like this with
Get started

Literacy Study: The smug smile

I have been puzzling about this topic quite a bit — while the idea first came to me gradually, then in spurts, in the end what puzzled me most was how to frame it.

There are probably innumerable approaches I could take — for example, how people sometimes talk about “reading a room”, “reading a facial expression” or “reading body language” as if that were coded in a written language (which in my humble opinion it isn’t, perhaps unless you consider there to be some kind of lexicon of facial expressions or something like that).

My approach is completely different. Over the years, I have come in contact with many people who probably consider themselves to be quite literate. Some consider themselves to be more literate than others (perhaps even corresponding to that often joked about statistic that some vast majority of people consider their own intelligence to be higher than average). I do not doubt for one second that there are many people who are far more literate than I am, especially when considering their specializations in specific fields of knowledge, but even in areas I consider to be my own specialization (such as “natural language as information technology” — for a brief introduction, see e.g. “Propaganda Information Technology vs. Indigena Information Technology — the Basic Idea” [ ] and of course well over a decade of writings at “FREELY BE :: Free Media Associations” [ ] ), I will always very strongly be (merely) “standing on the shoulders of giants” such as Noam Chomsky, Ludwig Wittgenstein and countless others.

This week I had two interactions with a particular kind of self-confidence: smugness. Yesterday I wrote about a blog post I interpret as smug over at Wants:

CAUTION: Beware of ads in wants’ clothing” [ ]

The original post, which I initially referred to over at “Teaser News“, I feel does not deserve any positive recognition at all. It can only be referred to as extremely manipulative, and can only be seen as excellent it its unabashed smug attitude.

But my other experience this week is the one I find more significant, mainly because it was such a prototypical instance of a downright commonplace smug attitude. And it also a fine example of illiteracy (which is also present in the first case, but not in such a distinct and directly obvious way). The second instance of smug attitude was a consumer of products sold by Apple (computers), who feels he is thereby protected from any issues related to their privacy (e.g. PII, “personally identifiable information”). I cannot say whether his own smug sense of security is actually warranted or not, but I do feel that it’s rather naive to trust (in a sort of “blind faith” manner) that it is.

Besides, it is a clear example of rather limited literacy skills. The technology you hold in your hand, if it enables you to connect to the Internet, also enables you to share information about yourself with other persons and other participants (such as companies, organizations and other institutions). The technology you use to get online and connect this way does not protect you from putting your foot in your mouth (cf. also “Responsibility for Online Behavior“). You do not have to take a selfie for others to gather data about you as you interact online. Others are very capable of drawing conclusions from actions you feel are simply between you and your “own” phone (or whatever). Cracked or not, many so-called “users” may very well be far more visible than they think they are.

Perhaps the most extreme case of naiveté are people who share “their” gmail accounts as if this data were actually at all adequate for someone to contact them directly. Literacy does indeed have something to do with understanding the terms and conditions users actually agree to when they “sign up” for some service brought to you by some company (or whatever).


By New Media Works

I'm just a regular person ;) If you want to know more, pls send me a msg -- thanks! :D

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: