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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

question of the weekend: Has your handwriting gotten worse over the years?


I despair on the rare occasions these days when I have to make my handwriting look acceptable: on a birthday card, for instance. I was the sort of kid who won penmanship awards in elementary school. I prided myself in my late teens and early 20s on developing my own unique style of handwriting distinct from the “proper” style I was taught and forced to use. Now? I barely seem to be able to make a pen form letters properly. It comes from years and years of computer usage in concert with a decreasing need to actually write anything by hand. (I’m still working on the batch of checks I bought a decade ago: since the advent of online banking, I now write far fewer checks in a whole year than I used to go through in a single month.) I can touch type like a speed demon. Handwriting is now a chore.

About the only thing I do regularly with a pen these days is sign a credit card slip. But even my signature is starting to look like a barely legible scrawl. (I also take notes at movie screenings. But half the time I can’t read those, either, my now terrible handwriting made worse by trying to write in the dark.)
Are you facing the same issue? Has your handwriting gotten worse over the years? If so, does it even matter if there’s no need to write much by hand? Should we worry, as a culture, about all of us losing a valuable skill? Or is it no different from how nobody today knows how to use a button hook?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD/QOTW, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTW sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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