There is a certain pleasure that comes with hunt-and-peck typing. For someone like me this is hard to admit since I can bang out sentences in qwerty faster than I could write or at least knock out in longhand that I might be able to interpret tomorrow. My longhand has deteriorated steadily since 5th grade, and my cursive devolved into a mixture of printed letters and curlicues that paid experts would be unable to decipher in Federal Court. And with my introduction to the typewriter, anything I scratched out today with a pencil just goes straight to runic inscrutability.
Hunt-and-peck forces you to slow down a bit. In this way it’s a bit like writing in longhand — the effort to compose is knocked back a smidge by searching for keys that your 10 digits know well but your thumbs need to coordinate with your eyes and poke upon. Eventually, if not already, there will be novels whacked out by thumbs. I imagine the plasticity involved in human brain evolution has already yielded an entire generation of thumbsters whose attention spans have adapted to the digital syncopation. I still fight with spell check and those damn algorithms always guessing at my next word choice. I know which ones I want, thank you very much.
Anyway, slowing down some means considering the words on the page, screen actually, and what might follow them. And typing with thumbs makes it a bit more difficult to edit, something that’s easy enough when you can see a window of type and rely on your every god-given digit. But reducing the entry points from 10 to two — well Proust would have gone bananas. Poor Willy Faulkner and Jimmy Joyce would have gone for whiskey, rum cake, and Irish coffee. And we’d be out an awful lot of incredible sentences. But those fellas wrote in longhand. Joyce would spend a day looking for a single word. Really.
So now at night, before the TV programming that leaves me bored and listless, I pick up my iPhone and poke out some words. A handful that I can save and mail to myself and then embellish on a keyboard that spans the width of my hands, rendering posts such as this. Don’t get me wrong, I love my opposable thumbs, but at heart I am an equal opportunity deployer.
©2017 John Hofmeister. Find more posts at jhofmeister.com/musings.
When I'm not writing for clients, I write about things that interest me.