I got a letter in the mail from a friend back in the States. This may possibly be the first personal letter I’ve received in decades. Business correspondence not included, of course. My friend is a Luddite – she has no internet at home, no smartphone and no email address. Anytime she absolutely needs the internet, she visits the local library. I cannot imagine living this way! However, if I’m going to be a good friend and keep in touch, I must respond with a physical letter of my own. And this I did today.
In an interesting little twist, I realized that despite being able to type up a letter to send, I have no way of printing it. I’ve come to depend so much on digital everything, that I don’t even keep hard copies of my own documents. Honestly, if the cloud ever goes down I am positively doomed. But really, I hate collecting paper. I was therefore, compelled to write by hand this letter to my friend.
How often do we actually use handwriting anymore? Besides our signatures, there are few opportunities to ‘write’ at length. My GP and dentist all use electronic forms. Nevertheless, I still hand write often. And strangely, I like my own handwriting. I have kept notebooks for all my writing projects and I nearly wrote the entire first draft of my first book in a series of notebooks. Some things are just better with pen and ink. I wonder though, if the following generations will use handwriting at all. And if they do, if it will be a form of block printing? I hear they’ve stopped teaching cursive handwriting in schools. And if that’s the case, will future generations no longer be able to decipher a document written in cursive?
It makes me a little nostalgic – writing by hand. I think of all the beautiful lines of poetry, the masterful works of fiction, the powerful speeches and philosophical treatises written by hand before being set to type for printing. I hope that somehow this fading skill will not be thrown in the dustbin of history. At least not in my lifetime!