In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Pens and Pencils.”
Daily Prompt: When was the last time you wrote something substantive — a letter, a story, a journal entry, etc. — by hand? Could you ever imagine returning to a pre-keyboard era?
I don’t think that I ever left the pre-keyboard era. At work, I handwrite my meeting notes. Sometimes it’s just easier to grab pen and paper, especially since we don’t have work-issued tablets and laptops. Even with technology at the ready, you have to take time to open a program, set up the format, save the file…then you have to type accurately. And it’s not like I can’t use technology with my handwritten notes. We can scan them into the computer, and save them as a PDF, and throw them into OneNote or Evernote. While I’ve kept my journal on the computer for years, I was forced to handwrite for a couple of days when Superstorm Sandy knocked out the power.
Even with all this handwriting, I use my computer almost every day. I’ve been keyboarding since the 70s, when I learned to type on a manual typewriter. I worked as a statistical typist on a Selectric typewriter, went to a MICOM word processor in the 80s, then on to WordPerfect on a desktop computer in the 90s. On the keyboard I can write as fast as I think. (Though nowadays, I type faster than I think!)
My difficulty with the question of a “pre-keyboard era” is that handwriting and keyboarding for me are not mutually exclusive. Even before the era of the smartphone, I would handwrite into a Palm Tungsten, or hook it up to a Bluetooth keyboard; or, sketch out an outline by hand before I flesh the piece out on the keyboard. For me, it’s a question of the right tool for the job, and the more tools, the better.
It also makes me wonder if today’s young people have less writing tools available to them than I did at their age. There is discussion in educational circles on whether we should continue to teach penmanship. At the same time, there are children who attend schools without computers, or even up-to-date books. And I have witness young adults in the workforce who don’t know how to how to navigate the Internet, or Microsoft Office on a desktop or a laptop, since their entry to the Internet is the “small screen”—a smartphone. It makes me wonder how they will be able to find their voice through writing.
This is only the third day of the New Year, and already, I’ve had three separate occasions where someone asked for an e-mail address or a phone number because they replaced the phone, and lost all their contacts.
Frankly, I don’t get this. The first thought that comes to my mind when I hear this is, Why didn’t they back their stuff up? Most of us are walking around with smartphones that cost twice as much as a desktop or laptop computer, and in some ways, pack a lot more punch. That’s a lot of data we’re carrying around in the palm of our hands. So why don’t more people back up their data?
In the past when I’ve asked this question to a couple of friends who had to replace a lost/broken phone, they just shrugged and said, Weellllll…..
The irony here is that, among my friends and family, I’m one of the few people who still rock a BlackBerry, and I’ve never had an issue with losing my data on any of my BlackBerry phones. I use Outlook to sync my contacts, calendar, and tasks to my laptop. I also backup my phone data through BlackBerry Link. If anything happens, I might lose a few days’ worth of information, but I don’t catch a heart attack trying to restore my data. Many folks also use cloud services to back up their data as well. But somehow, it seems that too many people in my world didn’t get the memo.
Maybe I’m a little anal about this because I lost a ton of photos and my contacts back in the early 90s when my desktop computer crashed. I warned my older son that the hard drive was acting funny, and if he could do me the favor of quickly backing up my data to CDs so we didn’t lose the files. It was probably one of those instances where I should’ve done it myself, and not leave it to a high schooler who had other priorities. I ended up losing all the photos of my family’s early years. And I had nothing civil to say to my son for three days.
So friends and family, I appeal to you, to finally stop procrastinating and make 2015 the year when you back up your data. And do regular backups. If you don’t know how, please learn. It’s too easy to do. Because I might not be civil the next time you tell me you lost my contact information.