Art Lost: Handwriting

A recent article in the New York Times brought up some alarming statistics about the decline of handwriting. With the rise of technology, it’s no surprise that more and more things are being written on the computer rather than by hand (like this article, for example). The alarming part is that it seems like writing things out by hand is actually a dying art.


In June, a British survey found that the average amount of time since an adult had last written something was an eye-popping 41 days. A third of people surveyed hadn’t written a thing in six months or more. Two thirds of people also admitted that the last thing they had written wasn’t even something of substance—just a reminder, a shopping list, or a quick note for themselves.


Mail these days seems to follow the same trend. Instead of holiday cards, we get e-cards or e-mails. Birthday wishes come via Facebook or a text message. Letters are sent electronically instead of through “snail mail.” And while all of these messages are just as welcome and come to us in a much more convenient way, there’s something to be said about the sentimental value lost on our journey to our technological streamlining.


Unfortunately, we might also be losing more than sentimentality. Over the centuries, people have studied graphology, which attempts to derive meaning from a person’s handwriting—sometimes predicting personality, character, emotional states, and more. Surprisingly accurate at times, graphology also recognizes that there is an intimate connection, something very personal, about the way in which individuals write.


For those that remain skeptical about graphology, consider this: a study conducted in 1989 at the University of Virginia found that the study of penmanship directly improved students’ reading skills, word recognition, compositional skills, and memory recall. But for some reason, we’re abandoning the practice; most schools don’t teach cursive writing at all anymore, and handwriting itself is only taught intermittently in schools.



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