A word in hand is worth...

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DYING HABIT The art of writing
DYING HABIT The art of writing

In tomorrow's paperless society, every word would have been gobbled up by cyberspace. Is handwriting on its way out?

If you believe that a word in hand is worth two on the screen, you don't have much of a future. The G-man himself tells us that students of the future would carry "tablets" to class. Well, some in India are already carrying Notebooks instead of notebooks, and virtual classrooms are not a long way off. But I still believe in digital writing. Writing with the digits of my right hand, I mean. I write six-page letters to friends who live abroad and get them weighed and stamped at the local post office. But dark forces are conspiring to make life ever more difficult for the letter-writer. Recently I had to send 25 invitation cards by Book Post. I settled down on the post office bench to practise the time-honoured custom of lick-tear-stick, only to discover that four-rupee stamps these days have no gum on their backs. Stamps that don't stick - what's the world coming to? I had to use the ubiquitous blue glue bottle and, as expected, there were only about six drops left! As a letter-writer, I should salute another breed of letter-writers that existed till as recently as the 1980s (and I'm not talking of those who mail missives to the editor). They used to write letters for other people for a small fee. You could find them sitting outside post offices, waiting to be approached by the unlettered. Today, the unlettered lot simply walk to the nearest STD booth and babble their message.The need to hand-write is diminishing, and will no doubt vanish one day. Hoardings, banners and placards, even cinema posters, no longer require the strokes of a paintbrush; computers have taken over. Graphologists will go out of business, for there will be no handwriting left to analyse. What possible reason would we have, in future, to write by hand? To make a shopping list - why, you'd be shopping online. In the paperless society of the future, every single word would have been gobbled up by cyberspace. Imagine not leaving behind a physical trace of our ability to write and speak. The rubble of our civilisation would yield only shards of plastic and broken chips.So let's keep writing while we still can. C.K.MEENA




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