The advantages of typewriters
(Or, on the power of non-electronics. Pun intended.)
*Surprise! I wasn't planning on a mid-holidays blog post, since I'm away from home and my usual work routine, but some things just get me writing.
I recently listened to a story from the BBC about the persistent use of typewriters in Myanmar, and, no, they're not talking about at hipster cafes. With the restoration of civilian rule only six years ago, after decades of military rule, Myanmar is beginning the modernize in the government and commercial sectors. Interestingly, many people remain suspicious of computers, relying instead on typewriters. The BBC story focused on those who specialize in providing documents, for legal, political, or personal purpose.
While I'm no luddite - hello, I work online - I do like to consider whether technology is inherently better. For example, we're visiting some friends this week who just received an Alexa, and I'm skeptical of this little robot inhabiting my space. (But this story will surely wind up in a new mystery thriller soon enough.)
But the Myanmar story got me thinking about the advantages of using a non-electronic way to write, whether you're using a typewriter, or simply writing in a handy notebook:
True privacy. No need for incognito browsing or downloading secure VPNs. What you type stays where you put it - same with a journal. There's no way to hack or be hacked, unless you're a Cold War spy and you do that copy of the copy paper thing.
The satisfying feeling of holding something in your hand. A finished draft in a notebook feels wildly more satisfying and "complete" than a finished blog post or article sent via email. For me, the sound of a typewriter clacking or a pen scratching paper is something that a computer doesn't compete with. (I already talked about how it's good to change how you write for new perspectives.)
No electricity. Look, sometimes I just want to hold a book and read or write, with no other lights on or distracting alerts popping up on my monitor or the incessant need to check Gmail every 17 minutes. No electricity for me means no distractions, and it means I can sit in my bathtub with a candle lit and enjoy a story. For someone in, say, Myanmar, it means they work by candlelight or out in the jungle where they live and likely don't have access to consistent modern life of electricity and WiFi.
Sometimes avoiding a computer is just easier. The BBC report talked about how people needing marriage licenses or legal agreements have a much easier time filling out a form on a typewriter than a computer. Remember the last time you tried to be all environmentally friendly by filling out a form in MS Word? The formatting got screwy, you spent 15 minutes trying to write above the line, not below it, and you finally gave up, printed and signed it, and re-scanned it. Paper is still important, people!