Writing is one of our main forms of communication, an easy method of translating thoughts into meaningful strings of words and a form of preservation of all that is perennial: ideas, feelings, verses, names, and moments.
Since ancient times, our need to relate to others has manifested itself in this form. The first full writing system was invented in Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq, where cuneiform writing was used between 3400 and 3300 BC.
In hindsight, the chronology of events seen through an evolutionary lens can awaken strong feelings of pride in us, for since then and until now, humanity has managed to develop increasingly ingenious means of communication, with the help of which we can transmit information from one to another over great distances in just a few seconds.
We have at our fingertips the artificial intelligence virtual assistants, who can instantly provide us with answers to the most complex and profound questions that trouble the human being, ingenious settings that turn our voice into text, the copy and paste option, and many other technological inventions designed to facilitate the exchange of ideas as efficiently as possible.
Looking at all these advantages, we could think that handwriting is something redemptive, outdated, and unrepresentative of the man of modern society. Has handwriting really lost its charm and usefulness?
If we were to think about the benefits of handwriting, we would agree that they are manifold and to our advantage. By choosing handwriting as a form of expression, our brain will thank us every time. Here are some reasons why.
Science has revealed that the regions of our brain associated with learning are more active when we write by hand than when we do it on a keyboard. That’s because writing by hand promotes deep encoding of information and consolidates our learning.
Have you ever wondered why many novelists prefer to compose their first drafts by hand? The researchers from the University of Washington came up with the answer. In 2009, they conducted a study whose findings revealed that elementary-aged students who wrote creative stories with a pen on paper performed better than those who typed. The first ones completed their assignments faster than their peers and wrote longer compositions with more complete sentences.
For example, recently, I used the fountain pen to write a birthday greeting to a good friend of mine. I felt that, in this way, what I write is much more personal. I could formulate my ideas more clearly and concisely, and I could better express how I felt about her.
“The beauty and nobility, the august mission and destiny, of human handwriting” George Bernard Shaw once beautifully said. What is handwriting other than a mirror of one’s personality? Separate from the content transposed on paper, handwriting is an art by itself, with calligraphy practiced by us from an early age. It encapsulates so much of each one’s identity, particularity which is lost when typing comes in, the keyboard becoming a modern-day Procrustean bed.
Handwriting also prevents joint pain and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), caused by too much time spent typing, and attention to a correct posture while performing this activity benefits the whole body.
According to German neuroscientist, psychiatrist, and author Manfred Spitzer, the more time we spend away from the phone or computer screen, the better. In his well-researched book, Digital Dementia, the author demonstrates the strong correlation between the use of mobile phones and computers and the manifestation of attention deficit in the population, the emergence of symptoms of depression and anxiety, and the tendency towards social isolation.
Technology is an integral part of our lives, a reliable helper, and one of the inventions that has made our lives the easiest, but when it comes to communicating, I think we should do it as personally as possible, without any other digital mediator in-betweens.