The Lost Art
School days were full of competitions. Every activity had the potential to be competitive and one of those things was ‘writing’. In fact, there were handwriting competitions in Class 1, and students used to prepare hard for it. Parents would hold their child’s hand and make him/her write in the most cursive and clear fashion possible. Ironically, most of these parents had drafted illegible balance sheets, office documents and leave applications. Nevertheless, 80s kids were taught to write beautifully, in its literal sense.
Then there were pen-friends in the early 90s. Along with the words, children used various coloured pens to add more joy to their communication. Many tried to draw, scribble or pasted stickers to seal their friendships. Also, there was a kid’s version of ‘Chain Letter‘, where one had to make ‘x’ number of copies of a letter they received and pass it on to different people. Today, we can hit the ‘forward’ button and send it to thousands of people in a matter of seconds. Can we imagine a world when people had to do each letter of the text with their hands? From children bribing other kids with better handwritings, to write their letters, to hacking into each others’ accounts to steal private information; we have come a long way. Or have we?
There were books on handwriting studies which established associations between each letter, serif and the angle of text to people’s personalities. So many of us worked on our writing to improve our personalities!*giggles* Investigators in those days used to rely on handwriting experts to unveil lying suicide letters and solve murder mysteries. These days, we have computer experts digging through huge database management systems to uncover intelligent yet less artsy crimes.
What’s funny is that with each passing day we get more paranoid about our privacy, and even more impersonal in our communication. We have better ways to guard our secrets, but build fickle relationships; we use laser cutters to design aeroplanes and don’t know how to make a paper-plane; auto-correct makes our stories clean and yet, we struggle to scribble words on the paper. Oh, it’s still art, we say. The art of writing personal stories, with a tap of a finger and the press of a button.