I like to make out that I’m fearless. Nothing scares me. Yeah sure, I’m not too fond of snakes and lizards, but if I see one, I wouldn’t put on a Broadway-worthy show about how freaked out I am. I’ll just walk away slowly.
But honestly, there are things that share the shit out of me, and I feel it is sometimes to difficult for me to compose myself and say the words out loud.
One of these things is the almost obsolete written word. And I mean the literal form: actually writing words with a pen and on paper.
It scares the shit out of me how people have become so reliant on computers and mobile phones to write anything. Sure, they can communicate their word much more faster and efficiently, and it’s easier to broadcast this message to others once you’re done.
To me, there is something so pure about writing words down on a piece of paper. The way in which no matter how much you cross out words, the crossing-outs are still there to remind you that you’ve made errors. It feels so human, way more human than writing on a Word Document, where the backspace key does the trick, erasing any evidence of error. Some may argue that there are rubbers to erase the pencilled words, or even those pesky white out markers. But the residue of the rubber, the pencil smudges and the messy white out marks still reminds us of the errors we made.
Then there is the handwriting of the writer him/herself. The way each individual letter is drawn. The way the indentation is done. They way punctuations are produced. The intensity with which the pen has touched the paper, to produce bumps at the back Of the page. It makes the writing much more three-dimensional, as the writer doesn’t merely show his ideas through the words itself, but through the way in which these words are written. You can almost what kind of person the writer is without actually reading the words. It’s like reading in another language: you don’t understand the words itself, but the technique can give an indicator of what the writer is trying to convey.
The written word also feels far more personal, and thus superior, than any other form of communication, even talking. The written word shows the thought put into the message. The effort put into inscribing each letter, each word. The time and the patience of the writer. Reading a piece of work written on paper and written by pen feels like nothing else. For me, it’s the purest form of communication.
Back to the obsolete nature of the written word. The place I see it most evident (and perhaps because being in the process of completing the stages of this institution) is education. Back in the early to mid 2000s, when I was still in primary school, almost every piece of work I produced was written out, or drawn. Using the computers at school was a novelty. They were there, we could use them. But emphasis was put on writing. But then comes the later part of the ’00 decade to the present (and, inevitably, extrapolated to the future) we used laptops for everything in school. Although by we, I mean the majority.
I could never get truly used to it.
Sure I use my laptop or phone. I’m using it to write this post, aren’t I? But only because I have embraced the conveniences of using this form to communicate to others for the most part. But it comes to myself, purely myself; when it comes to writing notes for class, writing song lyrics, writing short stories, writing shopping lists, writing ideas for a project or even writing to one person only, I turn to my pen and paper. To me, it’s a bond that I know I’ll never be able to truly break. No matter how much I go on my laptop, I can never truly leave my pen. But it scares me that people don’t do it enough anymore. It scares me that My children may never understand the feel of a pen in their hand and paper under their palm. The way in which this world is “progressing” and at a rate that is almost unthinkable… It scares me.
One more thing: I used to hate my primary school teachers for enforcing handwriting practise for about half an hour per day almost every day. Now I couldn’t thank them enough.