A Toronto newspaper recently covered a story on high school students incapable of signing their own names. The art of writing longhand is for today’s teenagers “at best a distant memory; for tomorrow’s it will be something akin to hieroglyphics,” mourns Andrew Coyne in the National Post.
Coyne says that the drawn-out, slower process of writing by hand makes us more precise. It “inclines us…to compose the sentence in our heads first — and the sort of sentence you can compose and keep in your head is likely to be shorter and clearer than otherwise. …This process of letting your mind rummage about in its library, subconsciously comparing words until it finds the right one may sound vague, or aimless: but it’s really about precision.”
Coyne concludes that computers affect how we think, and thus who we are. “You compose in a different way using pen and ink than you do on a computer. You think in a different way. It may even be that you are, to that extent, a different person, much as we take on a different personality when we speak a foreign language.”