What does “illiterate” mean in the 21st Century?

Do you have the skill set to keep up and succeed in the information age?

For the last two decades, reading and writing were sufficient enough in the workforce. Knowing how to read and write meant you were literate. You were open to many opportunities career wise. The more languages you know, the more options you have.

Since the dotcom boom in the 90’s and then soon followed by the technological advancements in the last ten years, computers have become an essential part of our lives. It has become a tool we use everyday both in the workforce and for education practices. This article, 5 Reasons Why World Computer Literacy is Critical, explains the technology culture and how it’s impacted everybody. But it doesn’t stop there.

With access to the internet and faster processors built in computers, we have also created the distant learning opportunity. Before the invention of virtual classrooms, video lectures, or downloadable notes, if you weren’t able to make it to the location of these physical presentations, you missed it. There were almost always no substitutes. It was very inconvenient to say the least as a sick student couldn’t afford to miss a class session.

Today we are much more fortunate with resources such as Khan Academy, Lynda, Udemy, and plenty more. The power provided by computers have given us more versatility than ever in the course of history. Our opportunities seem to be limitless, all that’s left is our own determination to find out what we want to learn about.

An excellent example would be a student who’s interested in learning basic algebra. She can go on Khan Academy and look up video tutorials on the fundamentals of algebra. Even if the video is only a few minutes, she now has the knowledge of how algebra works. If she wants to use functions in excel to do calculations, she could repeat the process and learn just like that.

That’s just the education portion, but we have come up with so many other functions for the use of computers and the internet.

Job search

We are unlimited in ways when we look for work. First you only have the option of offline bulletin boards. That kind of limits your job search. Now you have online networks dedicated to help connect talent with opportunity. Job seekers have confirmed that online bulletins such as Indeed and Monster, and social media such as LinkedIn and Facebook has helped them land work in various industries. Did you know, 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet candidates?


Email and social media have played a huge role in our casual and professional communication over just the last couple of years. You are able to connect with anyone in the world at a few clicks of a button. Your professional network online can also bring you opportunities you never knew existed.


The rise of Amazon has given us more options by our fingertips, literally! We can purchase products at the comfort of our homes and have them delivered to our doorstep. Major department stores such as Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, and Sears have also been providing such click and mortar services. The way of technology has changed the way we shop and our buying habits. According to Giselle Abramovich, strategic editor at CMO,

“Consumers ages 25 to 34 lead the way in smartphone usage in-store, comparing prices, reading reviews, buying products, and engaging with brands on social media while in physical stores.”


Video games and movies have also been taken to this digital medium. Gamers can download their favorite games from client servers and play on the spot. There’s no need to drive to the store, and wait in long lines to enjoy your favorite games. Movies are the same way. Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon have realized that in the information age, since everything is accessible online, why not allow users to access flicks this fashion. A research conducted by Digital Marketing Ramblings (DMR) discovered that the US alone had 40 million Netflix subscribers and 61% of those subscribers binge watch shows every few weeks.

It does seem like technology, especially computers have pushed the boundaries of limitation for the current generation and future generations to come. We are no longer confined to pen, paper, and books to gain knowledge now that we have access to global information at literally our fingertips. These advancements are surely impressive and innovative, and we are excited to see what’s going to happen next!