Once you know how to read, it’s impossible to see text the same way as you did before—you will inescapably recognize the symbols as letters the instant that you see them.
This “automatic” parsing of written language makes it easy to forget how much effort was required to initially learn how to read. This inhibits people’s ability to empathize with children and second-language learners as they acquire literacy.
In order to let you remember what it was like to not be able to read, this hypothetical browser plug-in will simply change all web fonts to an illiteracy-simulating “dingbats” font (Figure 1).
Note that the new “letters” actually do directly correspond to the letters of the English alphabet, so you could hypothetically re-experience the alphabet-learning experience by using this plugin.
Secret bonus feature:
If you set your browser to a “dingbats” font and actually learn how to read it, then you’ll be able to thwart spies who try to read your screen over your shoulder. The CIA should mandate that all of its laptops be set to this custom font mode.
If you want to remember what it was like before you could read, you should set your browser font to Wingdings or another “dingbats” font.
PROS: Increases ability to empathize with people learning to read. Makes it difficult for spies to read your secrets.
CONS: Your browser might get stuck in this mode, and then you’d have to learn a totally new (yet almost completely useless) alphabet.
P.S. You can also experience this phenomenon by just going to a Wikipedia page in a language you can’t read. Try one of these: https://or.wikipedia.org/, https://am.wikipedia.org/ , or https://si.wikipedia.org/ (unless you somehow read all three, which is exceptionally unlikely).