Friday, August 13, 2010


Old Wives Tales would have us assume that we could tell when a person had reached an advanced age when their penmanship became sloppy and was filled with messy mistakes as though the hand that was writing the letters had become unsteady. Small motor control is necessary to produce the beautiful penmanship that used to be treasured until the technological age hit us.

How often do we have to actually write anything with a pen in hand? If we need a grocery list, put it on the cell phone--punch those buttons, or touch that screen. If we need to do numbers, use the calculator on the cell phone. If we need to sign a legal document, we can type it on the computer and call it an electronic signature. We even have programs available to turn that typing into a script that looks like our signature.

Thankfully, doctors order prescriptions electronically now which might lead to fewer mistakes that resulted from their notoriously poor penmanship. I always thought that sloppy handwriting had a deliberate purpose--to deceive possible criminals--who knows? It certainly led to lots of mistakes on drugs received in drugstores.

If we want to compose our thoughts to write books and essays, we have a large number of options. Word processors are everywhere--on computers, and cell phones or the latest gadgets like IPad.

If we want to pay the bills, who writes checks now? We go online and log into our bank account to pay everything electronically. I noticed this morning at the food store that even though I charged my bill to the credit card, they still wanted me to sign the receipt. Occasionally, I make a short list to myself of something around my desk, but if it is more than a few words, I turn to the keyboard and type it. I might sign my greeting cards but addresses go on envelopes electronically or with pre-printed labels. Soon no one will use paper greeting cards or send them by mail because they are so much easier as e-cards and more variety is available. However, e-cards seem so cold and impersonal.

Is penmanship like the multiplication tables and is it headed for the lost skills list? Spelling, punctuation and grammar are already victims of the technological age. I had a rare occasion today that I needed to write a few sentences by hand and I noticed my handwriting had deteriorated. That's not due to age or poor health, just a lack of practice. 


  1. I have a friend, the same age as me (52 before you ask) and she still sends me hand-written letters (and they are long ones too) I feel so guilty when I receive them because I genuinely cannot remember the last time I hand wrote a letter! Everything is e-mail (and if I'm feeling really lazy blind copied!)

  2. I sent a friend a note along with a check for a good cause, and I felt handicapped as I wrote it, because I couldn't remember the last time I actually sat down and wrote something longer than a check!! You're so right, R.J.

    It actually feels archaic to me when I receive a handwritten note. Times have definitely changed!!

  3. my signature is no longer legible. if necessary i have to print my name above it or you would never know what it said. my handwriting is awful and it used to be beautiful, or at least i thought it was. good post!

    smiles bee

  4. Boy are you right about this. I write things down on notes a lot because I am at that age where I cannot remember anything! Sometimes I can't read my own writing. My husband has a business and I take phone messages for him. He used to be forever hollering to me and asking what this or that says so now I print! Another thing that will be obsolete soon is the home telephone. More and more people are using their cells only.