The last time I wrote something substantive by hand was probably on the third last day of high school. Our English teacher made us write letters to our future selves, which she would safekeep and send it to us, wherever we may be, in exactly four years time. I ended up writing about two pages of childish, clichéd, cringe-worthy bullshit that I really don’t want to read again, but still it was nice to hand write something that wasn’t an in-class essay.
Since then, I haven’t hand-written anything memorable or meaningful. Do Christmas cards count? Probably not. I still jot down ideas for new stories and sketch out rough drafts in my notebooks. But the final product is always completed on the computer. It’s just easier and faster. And Facebook is just a click away. As is Youtube. And Netflix. And Pornhub. K I’m done.
Still, I can imagine returning a pre-keyboard era. I’d like to anyway, because I love writing with a pen and all the memories it evokes. Ink on paper is intimate and human. It has character, soul, history. But the keyboard has speed. If we were to return to a pre-keyboard era, what we’re giving up is time. I don’t think we’re willing to compromise time for intimacy. Back in elementary school, I wrote notebook after notebook of journal entries, but to a kid time means nothing. The keyboard is not a magic wand, and the pen is not a liability. They just represent two different cultural mindsets in two different worlds. The world we live in right now is always short on time. Letters that can be delivered in a week or two need to be delivered in three days. Meals that can take hours to eat need to be consumed in ten minutes. We can’t afford pen and paper.