Recently, I had to fill a couple of forms, write an undertaking (handwritten letter) and sign 5 cheques, all in one place. Between my wife and I, we were terribly surprised at how difficult it all was. We knew what to do – that isn’t the problem at all. It was the writing that was the problem.
As I started filling the forms and writing that letter, no matter how much I tried to maintain my once-very-very-good handwriting, after a few words, it degenerated into unintelligible scribbles! Then I need to remember to write properly, try again, and once again, after a few words… same thing! It was almost like I was possessed by a ghost that hates writing!
It is ironic, though. I write the most, these days… far more than my employment-days… every single day. But all that ‘writing’ is ‘typing’. I cannot believe that I’m losing touch with my own handwriting, something that I assumed was instinctive, like second nature.
Another, related observation.
I had written recently about trying an auto-gear car for the first time in my life, after 20+ years of driving geared cars. When I was discussing this with a lot of people during a corporate training session, many said that they consciously do not want to buy an auto-gear car because they feared that they may forget how to drive a geared car (after getting used to the auto-gear).
I first thought this is not plausible at all. 20 years of driving geared cars, I feel like that skill is almost instinctive now, to me. But, after this jolt about hand-writing (something that we all start doing in school and continue for about 15+ years), I tend to think that forgetting to drive a geared car is possible too.
The omnipresence of smartphones has already made us not remember phone numbers. Except for 1-2 numbers, I do not recall any number, confident that my phone is always around if need be.
Ditto with simple calculations. Anything that seems mildly difficult, we tend to use the calculator on the phone.
Similarly, with autocorrect always on in our word processing software, we have no chance of making spelling mistakes! Even if we make them, the software will take care of it. Google’s autocorrect in search already understand what we meant. Some time ago, I recall an argument that we still need to know what the right spellings are, to even realize that we got it wrong, but now since the software takes care of correcting our mistakes, we don’t even bother, confident that our mistakes won’t remain.
More than smartphones and technology removing single-use products/devices we used earlier, it looks like our dependence on technology is also changing us as a species, upending established muscle-memory tasks that we learned for years.
Ironically, I was helping my daughter do some origami, yesterday. She wanted to make a ‘star box’, and I told her I know a different paper box, with 2 flaps… one that looks more like a cradle. I remember learning it while in school, and I started off confidently, with her following my every fold. At some point, I was completely lost! I had forgotten what I thought I knew so well! And then it took me some mental gymnastics to get that memory back and make that box/cradle!
Here are the 2 cradle/boxes, along with the star box that we did as per the instructions!