The keyboard is mightier than the pen

By on November 27, 2012

Children in preschool are learning to type and use computers, sometimes before they are proficient at handwriting.

By Genevieve Mills–

Try to remember the last time you picked up a pen. Maybe it was during your last class, when you took notes, but many students are now taking notes in class with laptops.  Maybe it was when you jotted down a reminder or a grocery list, but those with smart phones can just tell Siri to remind them of things, and it is easy to make a virtual grocery list. Maybe it was to write a letter to a friend, but let us be honest, who does that anymore?

In 2012, the Western world has gotten to the point where people could easily go days without picking up a pen or pencil and handwriting something. The question is: is this decline in writing by hand a good or a bad thing? I say good.

Many people wax-poetic about the feel of a pen in their hand and paper beneath their fingers, but honestly, I get a cramp when I write too long and too fast, something I’ve never experienced while typing. In the middle of a final with lots of essay questions, I usually have to stop and wave the pain out of my right hand. A keyboard feels just as good as a pen to me, and a pen does not make the same satisfying clicks like the keys of a keyboard. And yes, I have been told I type loudly.

The thing about typing something on a computer is that it is monumentally easier to share it with others that way. If I want to share my typed notes with someone, all I have to do is send an email, and then I don’t have to deal translating my barely-legible handwriting to a classmate. If I make my grocery list on my iPhone, I am much less likely to leave my phone sitting at home on the kitchen table than forget a slip of paper.

If you complain that typing is not as fast as handwriting, then you’re clearly not doing it right. There are approximately a million “learn to type” computer programs out there, and once finished, just keep typing, because practice makes perfect. If you want to be a faster typist, put some effort into it and you will be; there is no secret skill that some are simply born without. I cannot accept a complaint about being a slow typist, because it is so easy to become faster I find these complaints simply laziness.

I will admit that handwriting something is much more personal. But “personal” doesn’t always mean better.”Personal” is better for love notes, thank-you’s, and maybe the occasional poem, but frankly I would rather read a flyer that was typed in a nice font — anything but Papyrus — than try and make out a message through someone’s bubble letters. I argue that uniformity is not always a bad thing, because it is focused on the content rather than the form. Instead of admiring someone’s cursive, a typed note allows you to simply admire their words, their message.

So please, do not panic that people are using fewer pens and more keyboards. Instead, get on the amazingly available Internet and try reading what people all over the world have said with those keys.

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