Literacy is a skill that is being attacked on multiple fronts. Laziness is a foundation problem for all of these. Opinion #2 is correct. We are living in a culture which continues to tolerate, encourage and reward ignorance and laziness. We are a culture which throws "pity" and "rights" around like cheap candy. When a country gets to the point where any criticism, expectation or social norm is erased because it doesn't want to hurt the "minority" feelings, that's when you know it's doomed. Our country needs a new policy that does away with all this hand-holding, tear-wiping nonsense: Raise yourself to higher standards or get out.
Yes, I have known people who can't read (after years of school) because they never put enough effort into learning to read. That's rather extreme, of course; perhaps there are not so many people like that. But there is another, much larger, category: people who can read, but don't. That's mental laziness. And how different are they from those who are illiterate? Not much.
It has to be laziness, or a social permissiveness that condones bad spelling because people who are totally capable of learning how to speak with good grammar and spell correctly don't bother to try anymore. Texting is the worst because it is forcing an abbreviated language on people for convenience, but I wonder how many are forgetting how to write a complete sentence when it is necessary. And I wonder, because of course there are a great many people who choose to be well-educated, but there are those who don't, and I wonder if they are allowing themselves to be further divided economically by an overly tolerant culture.
With our technology, I feel it breeds laziness! With cell phones, texting has become a primary to coummicate. texting people do not need to be able to spell or speak clearly. The internet creates laziness because people do not have to look up answers in books, they log on to the internet.
Reading books and then writing about them is hard work that often requires serious thought and contemplation. In the past, there really wasn't another way to handle this problem besides actually reading the book yourself, and students were able to practice literacy skills that way. However, with the internet, it is fairly easy to look up a book and take opinions and thoughts directly from there, and students have learned that shortcuts exist now when it comes to reading and writing. Illiteracy has been a problem long before the internet came along, but it is far too easy now for a lazy person to get around serious reading and writing, and I think that the change is noticeable in the literacy habits of some people.
The few people I've grown up with were struggling with school (myself included), have had trouble reading and writing, and they were due to a few factors.
For one of them, they were harassed at home and at school, and that impeded on their quality of learning. Due to an unsafe school and home environment, and they could barely concentrate on school.
For another one, they found reading and writing difficult and struggled with it, but they did not have enough encouragement or time to improve, they were embarrassed by the literacy level they were at, and hid their embarrassment behind a lackadaisical front, and a persistent stubbornness, to avoid embarrassing themselves.
I've also had someone, who had a visual impairment, because text on white backgrounds would become fuzzy, and they needed a black background with white text. There are many who suffer from visual impairments or disorders like dyslexia, and often it would take time before these challenges are noticed.
A some people moved here from another country, and so their literacy rate would be low as well, because learning a new language, so understandably their skills won't be on par with others who would have lived here.
So there can be many possibilities impacting literacy rates, not only laziness.
While we can blame laziness on illiteracy, the fact of the matter is that we have a mandated k-12 school system education for all people in this country. When we are searching for the causes of the scourge of illiteracy, we should be more quick to critique our failing educational system.