Is Writing a Dying Act?
Is it just me or are we forgetting how to write? I am not talking about the content, or the concepts, or the "things" that we contemplate and discuss, I am talking about the physical act of holding a pen - or some other writing utensil - placing it with intent on a surface and moving the hand deliberately from point to point in order to create letters, words, sentences.
I always used to have a pen on me in order to write errant thoughts, random ideas and to record significant moments. Now that pen is there mostly to satisfy my need to doodle incessantly or to use the delicate nib in order to 'Reset to Factory Default' in whatever appliance is acting out. When, for whatever reason, I am required to write, I find that my hand tires quickly and my words become a drunken lopsided slur, that I cannot read back to myself, no matter how hard I try.
Learning to write and being able to write are, of course, core competencies and essential tenets of literacy. In many respects writing is the cornerstone to most civil interaction. But beyond the learning and the doing, once all is said and done, how important is it to engage in the actual act? Is it a big deal that most of our writing is now done through alternative means, such as keyboards, touch pads, and voice-to-text? I have tried very hard to consider why we should enforce penmanship. And I have come up with the following main points.
Reasons to Continue to Write "Manually":
Fine Motor Coordination - perhaps writing offers exercise and therapy of sorts to our hands. This argument falls short when you consider that writing is done by one hand only. Keyboard typing for example, offers exercise for both hands.
Penmanship and art - there's nothing more elegant than fine penmanship and well-crafted calligraphy. If we don't encourage writing beyond a certain point, perhaps someone will miss out on realising this special talent. But, between you and me, how many of us will reach the point of being uniquely gifted in this field?
Keeping things simple - connectivity and technology are great, but there may be points in time, when we may need to resort to the pen either because we have no other option (outages, basic electronic failures, technological downtime, etc.). Or else, maybe, we might, by choice, decide to go 'back to basics' out of nostalgia, or even principle, and not be enslaved to the screen. In the case of the former, the pen represents a solution to a problem for which we would hope there would be a speedy resolution. In the case of the latter, the pen would be a lifestyle choice and a general statement about the writer's core belief system.
None of these points are compelling enough to make me want to practice writing. Are the other reasons that we should take into consideration? Or should we let writing be a youthful phase, a milestone from which we must graduate. A core competency that we should summon, as needed, even if we do it with some reluctance and, in my case, with major sloppiness?