One day, the handwriting won’t be on the wall

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 I am a dinosaur. I know this because I not only receive the AARP Bulletin every month; I find much of it pretty interesting.

The last edition of this publication for old people had an article that immediately caught my attention. It talked about all of the fixtures of our daily life that will vanish within the next 50 years.

On the list of things we can expect to disappear over the next few decades are toilet paper — “toilet seat bidets will wash and dry at the touch of a button” — and language barriers, which will be history thanks to portable translation software.

Perhaps the most disturbing item on the list for me is cursive handwriting. I was shocked to learn that Hawaii, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio already have dropped handwriting as an education requirement. Other states apparently are considering doing away with penmanship requirements.

Here’s the clincher: “One day extra instruction may be required for students who wish to read historical documents in their original drafts,” the article noted.

This just makes me sad.

I realize we live in an electronic world that probably will become a paperless society eventually. But it seems to me that handwriting should be preserved in some fashion. Imagine a worst-case scenario, apocalyptic if you will, and our power grids went black for an extended time. Would we be forced to rely on our Pictionary skills to communicate?

I’ve watched the demise of penmanship over my lifetime.

My mother’s generation prided itself on impeccable cursive shaped by the tried-and-true Palmer Method. Penmanship was a big deal for the baby-boomer generation, too. Most of us worked hard at it. But it has descended into unreadable chicken scratching for a good number of those in my children’s generation.

And it drives me crazy that throngs of teens and 20-somethings don’t even know how to properly hold a pencil.

My ranting won’t stop “progress,” though. According to AARP, here are other things predicted to disappear within the next 50 years or much sooner:

v Snail mail — The U.S. Postal Service already has begun scaling back in light of electronic correspondence.

v Business cards — Electronic “cards” will be sent phone-to-phone or other future electronic device.

v Physical media — “Goodbye CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays, thumb drives, video game discs — and their players,” AARP says. Electronic entertainment will be gotten exclusively through the Internet.

v Drivers — Robot-driven cars will put all of us on auto-pilot.

The article has a separate endangered species list of things that already have largely gone by the wayside. They include answering machines, tube televisions, phone books, bank deposit slips, subway tokens, Rolodexes, printed encyclopedias, camera film and incandescent light bulbs.

So what does it say about me that I still use a phone book and my Rolodex, still deposit my pay checks the old-fashioned way by bringing them to a bank, still use a dictionary to look up words and still prefer my Canon AE-1 film camera over a digital camera.

That’s right, I’m a dinosaur.

Oh, I’ll make the transition to the New World; I already have in many ways. I can see the handwriting on the wall — but that’s only because I can still read cursive.

Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by email at

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