By James Wallace Harris, Thursday, October 9, 2014
Because of a pinched nerve I’m having difficulty typing. Because I want to write, I’m seeking alternatives to a keyboard and computer screen. This failure to type is revealing something about my current state of being. My mind and body have adapted to the computer. When I can’t use the computer, or the Internet is down, I’m anxious, and feel physical withdrawal. I hate this feeling. Even though my arm hurts more as I type, I keep typing. Sort of crazy, isn’t it?
I’ve tried dictating, and I’ve tried hand writing, and I’ve discovered I’m lousy at both. When I was young I could write longhand for hours. Now I can barely scratch out a few minutes of a childish looking print. Fifty years of typewriters and word processors have ruined me for that ancient tool – the pen.
The net is full of stories about the death of penmanship. I used to think, “So what, we’ve got computers.” Now I regret those thoughtless words. My left arm burns, throbs and stings as I type, and I feel like banging on it like Dr. Strangelove.
I’ve become a cyborg. The transformation has snuck up me. If you think you’re still 100% human, try going without your smartphone for a week.
I realize now I shouldn’t have let myself become so adapted to one way of writing. My body has integrated with cyberspace, and now I feel handicapped when when I can jack in. Yet, I know fully well that writers were immensely productive before the 20th century with just pen and paper. Helen Keller wrote inspiringly without seeing or hearing.
Even if I can get my doctors to fix my neck and arm, I think I need to relearn handwriting and pick up the skill of dictation. I’ve read about a number of authors who write by talking and they claim its immensely productive. My ability to speak is better than my handwriting, but not by much. Both are so linear. My thinking depends on word processing features, spelling checkers, and referencing Wikipedia and Google. I now need the Internet to complete my sentences.
Because I’ve thoroughly aggravated my arm, I need to go rest it a couple hours.