Paper Literacy vs. Digital Communication

My aunt keeps everything. Her house had children’s toys and underwear from 120 years ago. I sold her car yesterday, and had to rummage through all the storage spaces to be sure I had gotten everything. I found this rumpled artifact.

It instructs the driver to put this in the front or back window of the car, or to hold it out the window so passing cars will see it.

It is a perfect illustration of the difference between the world dependent on paper literacy, and the world dependent on digital communication. ┬áThe “HELP” sign might bring help faster on a busy enough road, but a phone call to “911” is more likely to bring just the kind of help you need. It will take longer to get there though. While waiting for the tow truck or mechanic to show up after the 911 call, drivers could pass your car who might be able to help you free, on the spot, to change a tire or provide a sip of gas to get you to the next gas station.

As for safety, if your problem were a threatening hitchhiker, this HELP sign could be surreptitiously displayed, whereas a phone call to 911 would be obvious and might invite aggression. On the other hand, a paper sign might also bring My aunt keeps everything. Her house had children’s toys and underwear from 120 years ago. I sold her car yesterday, and had to rummage through all the storage spaces to be sure I had gotten everything. I found this rumpled artifact.

 

It instructs the driver to put this in the front or back window of the car, or to hold it out the window so passing cars will see it.

It is a perfect illustration of the difference between the world dependent on paper literacy, and the world dependent on digital communication. ┬áThe “HELP” sign might bring help faster on a busy enough road, but a phone call to “911” is more likely to bring just the kind of help you need. It will take longer to get there though. While waiting for the tow truck or mechanic to show up after the 911 call, drivers could pass your car who might be able to help you free, on the spot, to change a tire or provide a sip of gas to get you to the next gas station.

As for safety, if your problem were a threatening hitchhiker, this HELP sign could be surreptitiously displayed, whereas a phone call to 911 would be obvious and might invite aggression. On the other hand, a paper sign might also bring a response from a passing driver who could take advantage of your isolation and need. If the passing driver raped or killed you, there would be no record of what had happened. For that matter, a predatory passerby might notice you stuck at the side of the road while waiting for the tow truck, after calling 911.

Both methods would get you out of a bind, and the best method of all would be to keep your car serviced so that you don’t break down.

It’s always good to be reminded that in the days before cell phones, we were not helpless.

of your isolation and need. If the passing driver raped or killed you, there would be no record of what had happened. For that matter, a predatory passerby might notice you stuck at the side of the road while waiting for the tow truck, after calling 911.

Both methods would get you out of a bind, and the best method of all would be to keep your car serviced so that you don’t break down.

It’s always good to be reminded that in the days before cell phones, we were not helpless


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