Improve Your Handwriting Or We're All Gonna Die

Just kidding. Or am I?
You should probably read this.

Yesterday morning my boss thoughtfully sent me a link to an article about typography-lovers, thinking I'd be interested. Naturally, I was all over it. The piece got me thinking about things...I mean, aside from, "Oh, that's like our apartment!" and "I love typographica.org too."  While the article is interesting, it also brings to light the annoying commercial popularity that type and text are enjoying right now. I attribute the recent hipster fascinations with type (in large part) to quality handwriting and printing going the way of the bald eagle – highly sought after and getting increasingly harder to find. The fact is that well-executed, handwritten signs or well, anything, is a rarity these days.

I didn't say "dodo bird" on purpose. Bald Eagle.

Why I'm Qualified To Rant About This Stuff

I love fonts and typography and was lucky enough to have studied graphic design with a third-generation typesetter from the olden days of typesetting (before computers did all the work for you). That's important because he not only taught me the HOW of modern graphic design and typography, he taught me the WHY. Key word there. It's one of my favorites. Context is something I'm passionate about, so here goes: modern typography has evolved over several generations of typesetting methods. Those evolutions laid the groundwork for the typesetting languages used to write the programs we use every day. This applies to me because I am a designer: I believe that knowing the context of your tools is key to knowing how to use your tools.

But I also studied Linguistic Anthropology in college (and continue to do so) because it's a passion. Hobby. Whatever. It's my thing. I study language and its evolution, how it affects people, and how we affect it.

I swear, I'm a hoot at parties.

Now that I've convinced you of my Type Nerd credentials, I'll remind you that I come from a great big family of English teachers and storytellers and Scrabble enthusiasts; I previously mentioned it here. Gram taught ESL (English as a Second Language) and was/is passionate about penmanship; in other words, it's a family affair. She used to emphasize the importance of teaching good handwriting to the little ones because it helped them learn the language. She bemoaned the additions of type-related activities for younger schoolchildren, saying that it only hindered their language and writing development, that typing should be learned much later.

I always thought she was onto something, and the article reminded me of it. I was just telling Kid this morning that touch-screen technology, my tablet, constant typing, and ten years of daily work on computers have left me with poor handwriting (compared to my school days, when I was known for taking meticulous and pretty class notes).

I used to be so proud of my handwriting, but lack of use has dulled a once-sharp skill of mine.

So What's The Problem?

Assuming that type of degeneration is the norm, what's the effect of that trend on the generation(s) of kids growing up on touchscreen technology? That's not far off. In five years, no doubt we'll wonder how we lived without it.  In terms of communication and culture, are we helping or limiting ourselves over the long run by depending on this type of technology? In order for it to be truly positive, the benefits of such a dependency should outweigh the consequences. Next, in order to make that possible, we must not be afraid to examine both the positive and negative implications of a society's dependence over the long term, then to scope its realistic sustainability.

It's handwritten.
And yes, it took (more than) several tries.

I'm not just talking about bad handwriting, folks. I'm talking about a LONG TERM affect on a species' communication; ecolinguistics on a timeline. When I refer to long term, I mean 5-6 generations or more. I wonder if our current society, high on its past few centuries of technological accomplishments, considers the possibility of our species forgetting how to write our language?

I don't think that's impossible.

I don't mean to sound dire, but I actually think about these things over my morning coffee. Please take into consideration that I'm four books into the Dune series, in which ecology, religion and communication are key plot elements - so my mind has been on these subjects for a few months now. For the next chapter of this rant, and for further clarity (no, I'm serious!) on the issue, I'll tie ecolinguistics to my perspective on Jewish mythology and linear time.

In other news, the kiddo's Kindergarten class is studying Phonics, so there's hope for humanity after all. He's learning to read, it's the cutest thing I've heard in ages. And I swear...I really am fun at parties. (For the most part, I keep these topics relegated to the living room couch with Kid. It's a non-stop party all up in here.)


  1. I think you may be worrying too much.
    I wouldn't put it into such a bleak perspective unless the school system as a whole decides to embrace everything that doesn't involve using a pen/pencil, otherwise we should be fine for the next few hundred years or so.
    Worst case scenario, when we're just two brains living out of a jar filled with embalming fluids in the year 2617, you can say "I told you so" with your brainwaves amplified by sonic booms from the gamma quadrant of the interplanetary satellites that govern the galaxy during the Jewish Sabbath.
    In any case, I doubt humanity very much misses any technology they feel is outdated. I'm almost certain no one wishes that only meat packing plants still had refrigerators or when TV's had turn dials or when pornography was recorded onto VHS tape. Well, I miss one of those, but I digress.

    I honestly think you're way too smart for society, Sass, just let us get dumber so you can take over the world and smash everyone's Ipad.
    Or teach!


    By the way, I have , by far, the worst handwriting ever. So don't listen to anything I just said, I'm SICK!

  2. Hahah, thanks B. =)

    I think I just had to get that one out. Sometimes I go back and read these things and think, "Holy crap, I was on a roll there...ooooh-kay."

  3. I try not to read my stuff, if I do, I begin to hate it.


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