The end of writing?

According to the Guardian, today, students are engaging in a mega-whinge because having to, you know, like, write makes their hands sore. (Mind you, the first thing the young freelance hack writing the article does is use “data” as a singular form (as in “data is”), which makes me wonder what the subs were doing.

However, resisting the temptation to take a swipe at whiny students, just consider how much poorer we’d be if people like Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Shakespeare, Dean Swift, Pepys, to name half a dozen at random, had thrown down their pens, and cried, “Aaargh! My hand hurts! Bugger this for a lark, I’m off down the pub!” and never picked up a pen again?

Luckily they were made of sterner stuff than 21st century pussies!

Personally, as one of those people who has gone through life with horrible handwriting (at school, I was always treated as if I was doing it deliberately, for some weird reason), I welcomed the arrival of the PC and its word processor as a more versatile replacement for my typewriter (once I left school and started earning, one of my first purchases was a Remington portable, followed, over the years, by a succession of office models blagged from employers), and these days I write almost nothing by hand, not even a shopping list, because ME has actually destroyed my muscle memory, and my hands can’t form the letters, not without major effort on my part. Though, at least, I do have the ability to do so, after a fashion, if all else fails.

Mind you, if that did happen I’d buy another typewriter.

For the young, however, now as always, actually learning how to write, by hand, and for possibly extended periods, is no bad thing. It is, in fact, a valuable skill that should be encouraged lest it be lost, and very few people should be 100% dependent on technology for written communication because, one fine day, it might well to go tits up if, for example, silicon-eating nanobots escape into the wild, or the petrochemical industry goes down the pan – then where would we be if people hadn’t learned to write? Or just sat around sucking their fingers and whingeing?


6 thoughts on “The end of writing?

  1. There is also the good old fashioned tradition of sending holiday postcards, Now that ecards seem to be the big thing, and for extra money, they will even send a card through the post on your behalf.

    We used to as a kids on holiday spend a evening in a caravan, “many tImes with the rain pouring down outside” writing our postcards telling our friends what a great time we were having.

    It was even better to be the recipient, especially if the postcard came from some far off land like “Spain” 🙂
    I cant remember the last time my postie delivered a actual hand written holiday postcard, Now its a notification that my friends have updated “Their status” with holiday snaps…

    them wert days>>>>>

    • Holiday texts, anyone? Tweets?

      It does strike me as perverse that people will pay to have ecards posted – surely the point is that they don’t need posting? OK, not everyone has an Internet connection but, hell, you can buy cards pretty much anywhere these days and post the bugger yourself. And why pay for ecards to be edelivered? Anyone with a computer and an ounce of gumption could cobble up their own without too much difficulty. Even I’ve done it, and I have the artistic ability of a gerbil.

      Mind you, the problem with holiday postcards in recent years is that you’d often have been back home for several weeks before they arrived!

  2. Hi, Ron

    I think the difference between using a keyboard and using a pen to write is really interesting. I still use a pen and paper when I’m writing something that isn’t just mundane stuff; it seems to help me think. Also, I spell better with a pen than a keyboard. Work that one out!

    (PS. Hope you got my message on your ‘about’ page.)

    • Hi Deborah,

      I’m the exact opposite – I was made for a keyboard! Mind you, after so many years of typing, a PC keyboard just felt natural – and faster. I still type with 2 fingers though, but 20-odd words a minute is enough for my needs.

      I suspect you spell better using a pen because, subconsciously, you know you have to – no auto-correct or spell-checker to fall back on. Apart from keeping a check on my money – much easier on paper than a spreadsheet – I don’t write at all now.

      Yep, got your message, thanks. Didn’t really know how to respond. “OK, I will,” didn’t seem the right answer, as I try not to moan too much on Twitter – those that make a career out of it annoy the hell out of me. We all need to vent occasionally – just not every tweet! And if you do it too often, people stop paying attention, so it’s self-defeating.

    • Bane of my life at the moment, as I’m having to recreate my personal dictionary in Word 2007 (must see if there’s a way to export it from Word 2003 on my XP HDD (also installed in new machine). Not helped by Word’s native dictionary having, as ever, the vocabulary of a 12-year-old.

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