As I write the words that you are reading right now, my dear reader, I am not thinking about my disdain for American leadership or my qualms on the lack of variety in Sodexo’s “Simply to Go” meals. I am thinking about the unfortunate loss of an artifact from generations past that had profound impacts on history before the dawning of the 21st century. I am thinking about cursive handwriting: its regrettable fall and its relevance in the modern world.
When I was a young child in elementary school, my fifth-grade teacher taught my class cursive. I will be honest: I really hated it back then. I remember with vivid detail that everything that we did in that class, from algebra problems to English essays, had to be written in cursive. Just when I was starting to master writing in print, the evil elementary school teachers schemed together to forge a new way to the alphabet, all in an elaborate attempt to make my life miserable. I honestly thought that I was going to have to write cursive for the rest of my life; they explicated the popularity of cursive in the real world, vastly overinflating its frequency of use. By sixth grade, in an ironic twist, all of the teachers wanted our homework in print because most people’s cursive handwriting was illegible. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Nine years later, today, I am a strong proponent for cursive handwriting, defending an endangered artifact of times past. Why the change of heart? It looks really cool when written with a rollerball pen, and, more importantly, I cannot bear writing a report or an essay on a computer. In the 21st century, where people are growing more dependent on technological innovation, instant communication via text messages and e-mail have replaced the old-fashioned pen-and-paper technique. For an example, look no further than the modern classroom. School districts across the United States are considering dropping cursive handwriting for computer typewriting. And it is not just writing in cursive that is going the way of the dinosaur; handwriting in general is on the decline. Suffering from declining mail volume and troubled finances, the United States Postal Service is struggling to make ends meet and is seriously considering axing Saturday mail delivery. By my crude projections, cursive handwriting will be extinct by the turn of the 22nd century, and handwriting in general will be gone by the turn of the 23rd. In its stead, writing will be relegated to the realm of word processors with spell check, autocorrect, and Wingdings. Damn technology for making my black 0.5 mm Pilot Precise pen obsolete!
Yet, I cling to my beliefs in the preservation of the cursive way (and my awesome pen). Handwriting has something that typing can never accomplish: emotion. Again, this concept is best explained with an example. Suppose that you have a significant other. (If you already do, congratulations; you may now assume that the hypothetical significant other I proposed earlier is your current significant other.) Answer this question truthfully. Which one better expresses your genuine, heartfelt love to your dearest: a lengthy letter written in cursive expressing your feelings and desires or a text message that says, “i <3 u !!! ^_^” verbatum? Barring any outliers (e.g., someone who obsesses over and finds great meaning in emoticons), all of you should have chosen the cursive letter as being the better of the two. (For those who chose otherwise, please watch any movie where the male protagonist goes off to war and sends love letters to his sweetheart, such as Pearl Harbor.)
I cajole you to write in cursive for a week and see how much you remember from the fifth grade. Write a romantic love letter to your significant other (hypothetical or otherwise) in cursive. Write your next journal entry in cursive. Write everything in cursive! (At the very least, please write a report on paper first instead of on a computer. It doesn’t even have to be cursive. You’ll be doing yourself a favor.) If you are having trouble, it is okay to look up an alphabet table to get the ink flowing again. And if you are skeptical about the austerity of my topic, you should know, my dear reader, that all of the words that you have read recently were once written in cursive.