I began to wonder over the weekend whether or not I’m some sort of new breed of “Super Writer.” I’m not talking about the quality of my work, mind you, nor am I really only talking about myself. I’m referring more to the current generation of writers out there.
We, on the whole, have more practice using keyboards to input data than any generation ever. Now, I’ve never done an actual comparison, but I’m certain that typing is much much faster than writing things out longhand. Especially, in my case, if one wants to actually read what is being written at some future point in time. But what struck me this weekend was how much more there was to it than just typing. It’s all the practice we get for our typing that got me thinking. As a lifelong video-gamer I’ve come to approach the use of a joystick containing seventeen or eighteen buttons as perfectly normal. It’s mind-boggling when I stop and think about it. And I’m pretty good at pressing those buttons in a specified pattern at a very fast speed. That is, after all, what playing video games really is. And that is, after all, what typing really is. One is good practice for the other. I’m told surgeons consider playing video games to be good for the finger dexterity. And that’s not all.
There’s also texting. Never before has a generation used the written word to do so much of their chatting. I text constantly. I’m a bit of a freak about it, actually. I basically regard my phone as a texting device that occasionally rings for reasons I no longer understand. And, again, this is marvelous practice for typing. For finger dexterity. For whatever you want to call it.
But it wasn’t until I realized this next fact that I began to really think on this: I’m pretty sure I can text faster than I can think. What’s more, I can text without looking at my phone. And not just small words. I, because I’m a nerd, tested myself this weekend and found I could write fairly large sentences without even glancing at the keypad. And I should mention that I use an old flip-phone. Just your standard phone keypad, no larger keyboards come into play for my texting. It’s freakish.
People talk about the tremendous amount of written word that is being produced by the world today, be it tons of new books each year or millions of blogs and webpages, and I think there are a lot of factors at play. But I never see anyone talk about the speed at which we actually write this stuff. The more I think about it, the more I realize that our generation may have the fastest fingers in the history of the world.