Last year, one of my goals was to go paperless, and by and large it was a great success. My work “files” are down to two inches’ worth of paper. My home files are down to maybe one banker’s box worth of mainly archival material. Most of my materials are in the cloud and I love the mobility, accessibility, safety, searchability.
What I didn’t expect was what paperless would feel like. I noticed it a bit with official or professional materials – to-do lists and the like – but very much with personal materials. It hit me the most when I tried to download a journaling app.
I felt bereft – lacking, at a loss, abandoned. I felt the difference between handwriting and typing down into my bones, as though the meanings of the words were not entirely there. It was as if I were holding an empty shell but trying foolishly to convince myself that it was the whole egg.
On the one hand, typingÂ perhapsÂ makes your words matter more. They must stand or fall on their own. There are no subtle variations visible that could hint at the speed or care in which they were put there.
On the other hand, I wonder with fear if we are moving toward a day where touching an implement to paper will be an activity performed only by specialists.
There was a day when any reasonably accomplished lady could play an instrument, sing, sew, draw, and write beautifully. Today, music and singing and sewing and drawing are unusual talents, noteworthy when held, and the world is poorer because of that. Kids are apparently not learning how to write in school anymore. I love writing in cursive with my fountain pen. What I communicate is different that way than any other; I think differently, it feels differently, the words that show up are different.
In my path to paperless, am I witnessing – participating in – something new? Or am I helping to kill something beautiful?
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