Friday, May 18, 2007

Writing about Writing

I just read an article about how handwriting is becoming obsolete; people can’t frigging WRITE any more. How is that possible? Doesn’t it help with fine motor development in a way that typing doesn’t? Am I really going to let my child first write by typing on some screen? Do I need to zombify my child any sooner than necessary? And how sweet is it to see that scrawly printing of a kid trying her first letters? I understand we’re in an increasingly digital world but I simply cannot believe that handwriting is becoming a tool of the past. What about Post-It notes? What about the fact that staring at some kind of computer screen, large or small, is bad for you for countless reasons? And doesn’t it make everything completely impersonal? How would it be if I typed all of my thank-you notes for the wedding? It would certainly take up less time, but I don’t think it right to use the same medium that I use to send forwards and receive spam. Will I have to type out my birthday cards in the future, choosing a font that looks “personal” enough to send to my friend/sister/grandmother? Certainly cursive is becoming passé; this same article states that 85% of the SAT essays were printed rather than written in cursive. Personally, I find cursive faster because it flows better. I think people can read my “joined-up” writing just fine.

Now, I know there are exceptions. My husband, for example, has problems writing due to dyslexia and must resort to typing in order to read anything—he has trouble reading his own writing sometimes. However, I still feel that handwriting has its place in the world. What about jotting down notes? What about the feeling of a pen or pencil in your hand, scribbling ideas down, tossing off a phone number before you forget it, taking a message? And hey—I know paper is susceptible to fire, age, mildew, etc., but so are computer chips. One more point: paper doesn’t crash or get hacked.

By the way, I realize the complete incongruity of typing this entire rant and putting it on the web. Don’t think I don’t. BUT—I wrote most of this on a piece of paper in purple ink (I was correcting papers) so I could remember it at the time, in that moment. Some of the best books in the world have come from a writer having a pen and a napkin handy. Good Lord, it made J.K. Rowling one of the richest people in the world.

So write your friends a letter! Write down notes! Don’t give in to the handheld, PC world, people!

No comments: