I'm not a Luddite, but typewriters are better than laptops
It'd be hard to find a student who doesn't write his papers on a laptop. Most papers are due online, the editing is expedited, and you have quick, easy access. However, you do have other options, and one of these is a typewriter. Unfortunately, this option is rarely given these days, especially in college. In fact, it's rare that we even have to hand in a paper in person now; everything is done online, through Blackboard or what have you. So why, you ask, when given the choice between word processors or typewriters, would I ever choose the latter?
I geeked out. Hard. I had wanted something like it for over a year. I fell in love with it instantly, and now believe that it is a much better medium for writing than a word processor. Yes, it’s true that you can't just erase mistakes. Yes, it’s a bit heavier than my Macbook, and yes, it’s loud, but hear me out and maybe you’ll understand why I think all students would be much better writers if they used typewriters before jumping onto a computer.
Now this may sound crazy, but the best thing about older manual typewriters — by that, I mean ones that aren’t able to use correction tape — is that you can’t easily delete words off the page. Think about writing a paper for one of your classes. There is always a lot of forward and backward movement. You type a few words, decide to delete them, add new ones, and then immediately delete the previous two sentences; something like that. Sound familiar? If so, you may realize, as I did, that writing like that is getting you nowhere. Sitting in front of a typewriter, I am more likely to actually think about what I’m writing, simply because I don’t want to keep correcting mistakes. While on Microsoft Word, I will type entire paragraphs without thinking, read them over, ask myself what I was thinking and then delete the entire thing. Even when I’m writing by hand, I erase half of what I write as I’m writing or scratch it out with my pen. There is no use in that.
Another plus is, as long as you set laptops, phones and other devices aside, the distractions of the Internet — Netflix, Facebook, Twitter — are not an issue. There is only a piece of paper and a keyboard. If you have trouble staying off the Internet while writing, I implore you to, at the very least, don’t write your first draft on a computer. Your paper will be of a much higher quality.
I understand that the typewriter is not the easier, more accessible option these days; that is exactly the point I am trying to make. We are trained to accept that easiest is best; this isn’t true.
Also, It is important to note that using a typewriter won’t hold you back. As I mentioned, you can use one to write a first draft, and then type the final copy on a word processor. You can still use a copier if needed. It will never contract a virus and delete everything you’ve ever written on it.
Computers are wonderful bits of technology. Sometimes, I love my laptop more than myself, but believe me, no word processor beats typing on a typewriter.
Reach the columnist at William.Ruof@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @willruof
Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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