Thursday, February 5, 2009

Old Fashioned

I learned something new about teenagers recently. Many of them no longer know how to read or write in cursive!

In the computer era we have managed to completely obliterate the art of hand-written communication. While watching MK open her Bat Mitzvah loot, I was astonished that as she opened each card and we asked, "Who is it from MK? What did they write?" She repeatedly responded, (in a wail), "I don't know! I can't read it!" It wasn't that the handwriting was particularly hard to read, it was that it was written in cursive.
She can only read PRINT!
It's official. The age of email and text messages has taken us one step further toward being unable to communicate without technology.

I had come to terms with the fact that as the years go by I will receive fewer and fewer letters in the mail, and I will send fewer and fewer myself. Email and I are friends, and I'm a fast typist, so even when I was writing letters, I often typed them and printed from the computer. But I also appreciated the beauty of cursive and often selected a font that looked like handwriting to personalize my messages.

But no longer. Now I must print. In ugly block letters.
I predict soon all fonts will have to be sans serif - removing all remnants of artistry in case it actually makes it too difficult for our next generation to read. Italics will be permanently banned as totally unreadable. And forget seeing calligraphy on your wedding invitations any longer. It is already the norm to see computer address labels on them. Next you will receive e-vites with an rsvp to an email account.

In discussing this travesty with friends, they talked of how no generation in the future will find ribbon-bound letters in a trunk and be able to slowly read their grandparent's love story. Items like these will be relegated to museums and future generations will think- how odd it was to have to use a pen and paper to send messages. You'll need a PhD to interpret the beautiful cursive handwritten notes and museum display cases will include electronic translations of the message.
How strange life is. How quickly it moves.
So, bye-bye fountain pen.

Hello arthritic thumbs and texting.

Damn. I feel so old fashioned.


Erin Alberty said...

WOW! I always had unintelligible penmanship (see blog name), so the death of cursive doesn't hurt me any. But I'm really surprised kids can't read it anymore at all.

Garrett said...

I don't get it. Aside from a few letters, it's nearly the same. How are kids that stymied by the lack of a bar on A?

I still take notes in cursive, since it's faster than print. (It's probably more illegible than my print writing, but those are the tradeoffs.)

A's Mom said...

National Texting Championship?! Now that's just ridiculous!

Anonymous said...

I noticed that a few months ago. I'm still shocked! Most of them can't read an analog clock either.

I'm feeling old fashioned too.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I have 4 kids (14-24) and the can all read and write in cursive. That is totally crazy.

Jude said...

Welcome to my world! according to "elementary teachers - they have to much to teach, they can't find to teach cursive. (Sorry Mom - that is what I was always told; but then again, I did work in the inner-city). but think of it this way - be glad that they can write at all!

Chelle said...

That is so ironic I just bought a juvenile cursive instruction book for my 15 year old because he doesn't have a signature! He can't sign on his drivers permit my husband and I were mortified a handwritten signature is part of adulthood. Besides like your niece he can't read the lovely notes his grandmas write to him.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Not only they do not write but also the spelling and grammar are the worst ever. Teaching Calligraphy in school would be good therapy for many...thanks great article