Growing up, I didn’t realize how much I was actually immersed in the world of English. From the beginning of my time on a computer, the first game I played for an extended period of time was a keyboard practice game. Back in the days of one-finger technique, the game provided a way for me to gradually get accustomed to the employment of all ten digits in the art of typing. It started with the letters, of course, and soon it became words, then paragraphs. School had made its way onto the keyboard as well, allowing me to type the majority of my assignments on whichever word processor I had at the time (most likely Microsoft Word 2003 with the little paper clip assistant).
Looking back on my time in the revelry of computers and their nifty keyboards, I realized that the imprinting of my thoughts onto electronic sheets of paper began, in a way, to usurp the process of actually handwriting works on real sheets of paper. For a while, it bothered me because handwriting (especially cursive) was something that I was critiqued on and worked to improve on in my tender years. However, I have come to the terms with the fact that even English is not spared from the “eat or be eaten” mentality and that if one is to thrive in the English community, he must be learned in the ways of typing. However, something about typing poisoned my attitude towards writing because it seemed like it made writing the piece that much easier. I wasn’t free to make mistakes because Auto-Correct would catch them and I was free to write to my heart’s content (or lack thereof) without worrying about the pencil smudges on the ring and pinkie fingers. This relative ease compared to the actual task of handwriting allowed me to become languorous in my habit of writing. Although it seemed to take much effort to even gather a sheet of paper and a pencil and begin to write, I was always pleased with the end result because I felt like I had made a kind of connection, both physical and mental, with the paper. But with the keyboard, it took just as much effort to lay my fingers upon the keys and I didn’t even receive as much pleasure as I did from writing. In a sense, the keyboard causes the writer to lose his identity; our handwriting is what distinguishes us from one another, and is also an area in which psychologists enjoy spending their free time. The calligraphy of each person is unique in its various idiosyncrasies and the various strokes taken meticulously to arrive at the final product. The beauty of handwriting is often masked by people who say, “Oh, I have chicken scratch” when they actually have a unique brand of expressing themselves.
Though handwriting is, perhaps, one of the easiest ways we can express our innate individuality, it simply is too easy to get on the laptop and type up some thoughts for the world to see and discuss. It is this ease that especially appeals to the younger generation which is obsessed with inordinate levels of efficiency ranging from cell phones to music players to any of the multitude in between. It is also this ease that terrifies me because it may very well lead to the demise of handwriting as we know it. Why exhaust expendable material like wooden/mechanical pencils when I can simply type on the computer and just post it? Just as in E.B. White’s “Once More to the Lake,” the vision of the romance and beauty of writing is fading as memories grow old and that the mortality of handwriting is definitely a looming presence.