On the pearl-clutching over the “death” of cursive handwriting.

Handwriting was my bane all through school. I have relatively neat writing but I’m a very “tight” writer; I bunch up over the page, fingers gripped hard around my pencil.1 While I was growing up I used to be absolutely plagued by RSI-style injuries in my wrists and forearms, which my parents used to love blaming on too much time spent on the computer.

Then I left school, and got an office job.

Nowadays, I very rarely write anything by hand, and yet do more work now on computers and related devices than I ever did when I was a kid. And guess what? Nowadays, I very, very rarely get anything close to the intensity of the RSI problems I used to when I was younger. I still get some (I’m flexing my wrist as I type this, since I just moved cubes and I think my new desk is a little high), but nowhere near the agonizing pain I remember.

Living mostly pain-free, however, has taught me to identify the things that actually set off my RSI. They are:

  • writing by hand
  • drawing or painting ((Which I was doing last night, and is likely to be another reason my wrist today is a bit angry.))
  • stealth- or platform-based videogaming (I tense up subconsciously from the stress)
  • reading in bed.

It’s that last one that was a big surprise for me. But, yeah; apparently holding paperbacks open while I read them really fucking destroys my wrists, particularly if I’m lying down. (I can achieve something similar reading from my phone in bed but it takes like ten times as long to kick in.)

Meanwhile, the one thing that doesn’t set off my RSI? Typing on a computer. Also included: typing on my phone, laptop, and tablet. Basically just typing in general. I can pretty much do it indefinitely. Unlike manual writing, where I’m destroyed after like half a page.

Tl;dr, computers saved me from a lifetime of agony, so basically fuck you to anyone who gets on their nostalgia high horse about how cursive is some kind of life essential.

  1. “Have you tried not doing that?” Sometime in the last thirty years? Surprisingly, yes! I have! The result is my handwriting turns into a giant unreadable loopy scribble which of course teachers really loved. []