Greetings from a typewriter!

Garrison Ebie

My birthday was over the weekend, and I received this awesome piece of machinery from a super good friend of mine. It does a lot of the cool things that Microsoft Word will do, except it weighs 10 pounds and holds its own ink. Just to break it in and get used to it, I thought, “Why not write my weekly column on a typewriter, all about typewriters!” And that, friends, is what I shall do.

Now let’s get one thing straight, this is tough. I’ve got to press the return key at the end of each line. There is no spell check to speak of besides the dusty dictionary sitting in my bookcase. The only word count is my index finger. But would you like to know what the worst of it all is?

It’s the noise. That wretched typewriter noise. It just goes rat a tat tat, tattity tat tat from now until I’m finally done.

Dear God, how did all you old folks put up with these things 20 years ago? Typing in privacy is out the window. Everyone knows you’re typing something. I’ve even gotten a few strange looks from the cat trying to sleep on the couch. I feel like someone’s about to knock on my front door out of concern that I’m being shot up by rapid machine gun fire in the middle of the night. One day, just to spite the world, I might feel inclined to bring my typewriter into a 300-seat lecture hall and start typing away at my notes. How long could I get away with that before being actively forced out of the building?

All jokes aside, there really is a lost art in punching away on a type writer. Everything that comes out of this thing physically exists, and requires effort to destroy even if that’s just holding the page to a flame. Consider this, users have to actively think about what they’re going to write prior to laying a pair of hands down on the keyboard. Coming up with a clever sentence or a fancy word a few paragraphs down the page is not just a problem to be solved with a few clicks of the mouse. You’ve got to rewrite the entire thing.

To further the case of being overly careful, more than anything it is important to type precisely and without sloppy fingers. I’ll be honest, this page looks really bad. I didn’t realize until now how many words I don’t know how to spell, and how often my fingers hit two or three keys all at once. Whoops.

The backspace key will never be taken for granted. Without one of those handy keys in the right hand corner, your mistakes will end up being the death of a well-written piece of literature. In other words, tipping the whiskey back is a bad idea if you’re low on paper.

Occasionally, I might complain about how some new technologies are making our society as a whole just a little bit worse than it used to be. As for the invention of word processing software on an operating system, it has brought a new level of unprecedented comfort to the writing process. Yes, it might have eventually brought upon some pretty awful blogs over the years, but it cannot be underappreciated for what it has done in terms of writing research papers. College students don’t know how easy they have it. The ability to just keep on writing a consistent line without having to press the return key to start again on the left is absolutely amazing.

Just to go easy on my editor, I have a feeling I’ll end up retyping this out on my home computer in a digital form. I’d like to know how long it’s been since someone on the Stater staff had to edit a piece with Wite-Out and a red pen. How about how long it’s been since someone from the copy desk didn’t just use copy and paste? Sorry guys, but your job is way too easy.

As a conclusion to this particular rant, I encourage everyone with fingers to pick up a typewriter when they have the chance just to gain a perspective on how simple their writing activities have become. For better or for worse, be thankful you don’t have to lug one of these behemoth machines around just to type a couple words.

Garrison Ebie is a senior electronic media production major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].