Do You Quill or QWERTY?

When I was two, I was an artist! My home was my world, and that world, a canvas.

Rusty old pictures and childhood anecdotes that are now discussed as tea-time tales, stand testimonial to how I painted the dull whites of the house with anything and everything that I could find to draw with.  

I can only imagine the sheer joy that the two-year-old me would have had at accomplishing the almost impossible feat of being able to hold a pen properly. It was probably this ‘sense of achievement’ that I associated with the act of using a pen that, even at the age of four, when most of my creative energies were being channelized into drawing shapes and writing ABCs, I continued with my artistic endeavour.

Fast forward and it’s the year 2019. I find myself cribbing about written examinations and wishing we had a choice to type them instead.

Most of us, regardless of our varying demographics, share an ambivalent relationship with the acts of typing and writing. We simultaneously experience contradictory attitudes of attraction and repulsion towards them. Even when it comes to assessing the pros and cons of adopting either of the two practices, it becomes challenging for us to measure whether one outweighs the other or not.

For instance, studies have proved that writing notes aids retention; however, writing is a time-consuming exercise as well. Typing, on the other hand, is faster and efficient, but it makes it easier for us to succumb to the phenomenon of ‘aimless typing’ where we type whatever is being spoken verbatim—even the not-so-useful details.

When I asked my friend his preference, he said that he preferred writing over typing primarily because he had never been taught how to type either on a computer or on a laptop. His comfort zone lies in writing, and he is extremely fast at it. However, if given an option between writing or typing on his phone, he would choose to use his phone at all times because he finds typing on the phone to be more convenient.

I too have mixed feelings about this. I am a loyal writer! I love writing in my journal, making to-do lists, schedules, planners, and in class, I enjoy taking down notes. The satisfaction of striking off completed tasks from my lists and plans is beyond comparison. Irrespective of this, my loyalty falls short in front of my preference to have my assignments typed. Writing by hand makes my assignment susceptible to errors and it slows me down too. I fail to write as fast as I think. However, being able to type equips me to ‘pen my thoughts down’ efficiently, and it is needless to say that a typed assignment appears much more professional over a handwritten one.

Although I am a proponent of typed assignments, having studied in a boarding school for a good chunk of my formative years, I have come to value handwritten letters over texts and e-mails. With limited contact with friends and family, e-mails fail to convey emotions accurately. Electronic mails feel cold and distant—they feel like an obligation. However, letters are an intimate affair. They are a reflection of one’s love and warmth! I remember how we, at boarding school, used to invest in fancy letter pads and envelopes to convey to our loved ones that we cared!

Writing letters is one practice that I have stuck with. I still write letters to my friends whom I haven’t met in ages, and just observing how their handwritings have evolved over the years makes me feel more connected to them.

It would be insolent of me not to mention that typing provides us with unlimited virtual space while it saves physical space simultaneously. It is easier to organize typed text than it is to organize written data. Text that is digitally available allows for sharing and mass editing. Considering the environmental crises that we find ourselves in, typing definitely saves resources as well.

Typing is an essential skill that is looked for in employees. Regardless of one’s preferences, efficiency in typing is expected in the corporate field. Knowing QWERTY has become as important as knowing the English alphabet. However, with the advent of technology and heavy reliance on typing, the handwriting of children suffers. They struggle to hold pens and pencils because an overuse of touchscreen phones and tablets is preventing their finger muscles from developing sufficiently. Typing then becomes a necessary evil!

The debate to establish the supremacy of writing over typing or vice-versa is a bottomless pit. The arguments are endless; the justifications vary. One might even come close to answering the ‘chicken and the egg’ problem, but an answer to the Typing vs. Writing argument remains as elusive as ever!

Focusing on Literature and Lifestyle of the Urban Youth of the Country, LitGleam is a monthly magazine, an intrinsic part of BlueRose Publishers.

Within its pages, our readers find provocative essays on literature and lifestyle, guidance for getting published and pursuing writing careers, in-depth profiles of poets, fiction writers, and writers of creative nonfiction, and conversations among fellow professionals.