Human expression is at stake, but at what cost? The fact of the matter is that, so far, technology has only changed the way we deliver information — the end result, the consumption of knowledge and the pursuit of truth and literary exploration, remains the same regardless of how the information is generated. On the other hand, if humans have no need to create the content themselves, much will be lost. Whether the ballpoint pen soon becomes an item of antiquity is up for debate, but one thing’s for sure: Humanity stands to lose more than just writing instruments in the quest to preserve the written word.
8 Compelling Reasons to Preserve Writing
Everything we know, we know because humanity has written it down. It’s hard to imagine, but back in the times of the ancient Egyptians or Greeks, there were no video cameras or tape recorders. Instead, we rely on the works of Sophocles, Plato, Socrates and the ancient Egyptian scribes who wrote in hieroglyphics to help us understand the past. Humans must maintain the written word for the sake of the future in a historical context.
2. It’s Key for Critical Thinking
Writing is and has arguably been since its inception one of the primary tools in critical thinking and problem solving. Where technology comes up short in the writing department is that it quite literally does the thinking for us. If we allow technology to pen the great works of the future — literary criticism, poetry, screenplays, political commentary and even e-mails to co-workers — where will the human brain make up for the lack of critical thought? Unfortunately, a humanity that doesn’t write is one that doesn’t think.
3. It’s Good for Humanity
We probably don’t have to tell you why putting pen to paper is good for humans, but suffice it to say that poetry, songwriting, playwriting and fiction have long been used as processing devices for the human brain. Sure, we could let a robot do the writing for us — indeed, we inevitably will — but let’s just hope that we have more effective methods of dealing with pain, grief, anxiety and suffering by the time that rolls around!
4. It’s a Tool for Understanding
Few activities are as effective at helping us understand ourselves and others than writing. Psychologists are already theorizing that shorthand communication — namely texting and digital messaging — may be stalling our abilities to communicate face to face, while experts continue to reinforce journaling and writing for working through and identifying complex emotions and resolving conflict. We need writing to help us untangle our feelings and express them effectively.
Buried in all the lofty musings about the importance of writing and human history, we often miss one key fact: People like writing. It gives us bursts of joy, excitement, curiosity and pure enjoyment. It’s often used in therapy to help minimize stress, anxiety and worry. Not to mention the delight in consuming the end result. Reading works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and criticism brings the benefit of escapism and pure enjoyment.
6. It Gives Us an Edge
The British philosopher and theorist Bertrand Russell asserted that "speech, fire, agriculture, writing, tools and large-scale cooperation" are the main factors distinguishing humans from animals. The fact that we are able to communicate with one another far beyond physical limitations and basic needs is a distinctly human quality, and one that separates us from the animal kingdom. If we don’t write, and therefore don’t communicate, are we just a pack of wild animals?
7. It Helps Us Communicate from Afar
These days, you can shoot a message to another person just about anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds. To Engelbart’s point, digital advancements in this sense don’t override writing — they instead bolster it. But the simplicity of these new technologies comes at a loss, too, because there’s less pressure for detail, length and description when we have the world quite literally at our fingertips. Writing, not messaging, is the thing that has helped blur borders and create a more centralized world, and we must preserve it.
8. It’s Good for Self-Improvement
In addition to being a valuable tool for combatting negative emotions, writing is also vital to bolstering our self-worth, knowledge, language and even our handwriting skills. In fact, some studies show that the act of writing is an effective way to help us learn and absorb complex information while also equipping us with the skills required to better communicate that information later. We need to keep writing alive because we need to continue to strive for a better, healthier society.
Is Writing Dead? No… Not Yet
The good news is that writing isn’t dead, and there aren’t any significant indicators showing that it’s heading towards a slow or painful death anytime soon. What we do know is that the ways in which we’ve written for thousands of years are dying and that communicative tools are a matter of evolution, just like everything else in life. It’s vital that we keep the written word alive well beyond the age of artificial intelligence and technology for one main reason: It’s what sets the human brain apart from the microprocessor.
Guest post provided by:
Chris Napa, Experience Manager
A.T. Cross Company, LLC
Readers and writers, what are your thoughts here? Do you think the art of writing is dead? Has it been "lost" amid social media and modern technology? Curious here.
Image credits: Pixabay.com