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When was the last time you wrote something substantive — a letter, a story, a journal entry, etc. — by hand? Could you ever imagine returning to a pre-keyboard era?

I got good grades in high school, but by the grace of the teacher, got a C for the year for typing. Then, we used the old big black manual typewriters. When I got a job later on, the world had advanced to Selectrics! Royal_Desk_KMM_early40s_MWow, what a change, though it didn’t improve my typing. I was still queen of White-Out! (As an aside, typing was one of the most useful skills I acquired. When I graduated from college, I was able to get a job when others couldn’t because I could type.)

I find now that writing long hand is almost as bad as my typing; I put personal notes on all the Christmas cards “we” sent out, and it was difficult. There seems to be a mind-hand connection, and reverting to using a pen doesn’t flow as well as it used to. I much prefer a good sharp pencil, and erase copiously, using the little pointy-eraser heads to replace the ones I’ve worn out.

More often than not my husband I are are both on computers at the same time, even in the evening when we’re “watching” TV, often commenting, “What did people do before there were computers?”

My husband went into business for himself in 1986. At first I did his typing on a little portable typewriter, with carbons! Then he bought a new IBM computer complete with 256 KB of RAM and a monochrome monitor at a whopping cost of around $2,500. No Windows yet — just the basic DOS operating system, but it was certainly a step up.

We haven’t looked back! Every new computer we’ve had has been such a vast improvement over the last, and we don’t even own any super-computers, just fairly basic desktops and laptops.

Once the internet and email came into common use, my husband noticed that clients stepped up their deadlines; if they could ask for and receive an immediate reply, why shouldn’t work be done more rapidly? I agree that email and cellphones especially have created a “now” world with both good and bad results. That means some people have to set boundaries about work and personal time, and stick with them. Nothing is worse than having someone interrupt a conversation to take a call, or compromise their driving to check email. Time with children, especially, should be cellphone free; they need and appreciate an adult’s full attention.

It’s beneficial and convenient to be able to look up topics as I write about something, check facts, and learn something new. I’ve done that often when writing my blog. If I hear or read a word I don’t know or can’t spell,  I can immediately look it up without leaving my chair to consult a dictionary or encyclopedia.

I find it hard to remember what I did before we had computers on our laps, but I don’t remember sitting down in the evening and writing letters, stories, or essays (like blogs) to occupy my time. (Of course computers only came into general use when my kids were in middle and high school, so no doubt more of my time was spent doing mother and household stuff.)

I took a calligraphy course once many years ago, and when I taught fourth graders about a decade ago handwriting was still part of the curriculum — and I understand that it may not be taught universally anymore. My mother and grandmother had beautiful handwriting, far nicer than mine and I lament the passing of a skill that won’t return. Still, I wouldn’t go back. I find technology and the tasks I do on my computer interesting and worthwhile.

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