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Finding the Humanity in Technology

 by Carly Stewart

There is something to be said for the genuine: the way your favorite pen glides across a page as you test out your cursive after months of not once touching ink to paper. It’s like seeing an old friend after weeks of a friendship condensed into 160 characters on a screen, their voice more comforting than you remember and it’s like no time has passed at all. I can’t remember the last time I wrote something down that was longer than a post-it note reminding me what time my show was on. I make excuses saying I don’t have time, that typing is just so much easier and faster. However, have you ever sat down to think that, in some instances, slow might just be better?

When I write letters - we’re talking about actually writing here - the confines of permanent black ink causes me to take my time, consider my precise wording, and focus on the clarity of my handwriting. Even if out of fear of having to cross out a word or start over, this focus has got to be good, right? This level of devotion and care is just something I don’t have when I type. Can you imagine typing without the ability to backspace or spell check? Think back to typewriter days: every movement of your fingers were documented and mattered.  

Is convenience replacing beauty? Will you be able to remember the feel of pages between your fingers and the smell of a tattered love-worn book when the world continues down this road? I will be the first to admit that in the frenzy of my day-to-day life sometimes it is just easier to pull out my iPad, open up my email, send a Facebook message and continue whatever free novel I downloaded from the Amazon bookstore all on one light-weight device. But that being said, there really is something to say for the written word. Thousands of years from now, if of course there is still life on earth, pixels may get lost, electricity may someday be no more, but the written word - as we have come to know - can stand the test of time.

So the question becomes: How do we reconcile the fast-paced world we live in, that grows ever toward the digital world of 1’s and 0’s, with the sincerity and genuineness of the weight of a book in your hands and the personality captured in handwritten letters? Is this all just the scribbles of a nostalgic romantic or is there actually something being lost here?

I love technology. I work in a technology company for Pete’s sake. So when I talk about the “good ol’ days” I don’t mean to discredit how far we have come or to say that the natural progression of human invention and innovation should be stunted all because the romantics wish it to be so. However, I do believe in keeping some of that heart in what we as business technology professionals do, and that is help people. We make things convenient but that doesn’t mean we need to take away the personalization and care. For instance, sending reminder calls are convenient but we always allow our clients to record their messages in their own voice. There are so many things that businesses can do to not lose heart.

As for you reading a book or writing a letter, all I can say is: Find time. Every now and then, whenever you can, find time to remember what your handwriting looks like, and remember that bittersweet satisfaction you get from closing the back cover of a book you just finished.  Believe that these tiny things are the things that separate us from all other life on earth, and ultimately ties us to thousands of years of history and culture that has lead us to where we are today.