Tools of the Forgotten

It might sound strange to hear someone whose work is steeped in technology to say he misses the old tools, but I do, the old tools, the old ways. Back when I was teaching graphic design I encouraged students to pick up a pencil and piece of paper to sketch out their ideas before sitting down at a computer, the reason for this was two fold. Starting a design on a computer tends to let the computer direct your work, limitations of the software, or your knowledge of the software, change what you may have done had you the use of just a pencil or a paint brush. And the computer tends to hasten the work, a quick movement and click of the mouse, a few keyboard entries and your idea is there on the screen before it’s even solidified in your mind.

These days we all use our computers, tablets or smart phones to do almost everything that we once used a pen or pencil to do. I’m guilty of this as well, in spite of the encouragement I still give to others.

When was the last time you wrote someone a letter? There’s something to be said for what is put in to a hand written letter. Without a backspace or delete button the words are more thought out, crafted to get your message across… and no auto correct to get you in trouble! I’m a bit of a perfectionist, but aren’t all creatives to a certain extent. I’ll take pen to paper and half way in wish I had used a pencil, and will often write a cleaner copy before sending. But the end result still took longer, was well thought out and gets across what I want to say much better than a hastily written email.

Facebook has become the de facto place to share ones thoughts, daily ramblings, etc. This in itself creates two problems, one being the speed in which your thoughts, at the moment, are transmitted to a large audience. The other being that with your thoughts and the thoughts of many others appearing on the screens of your friends and family at the same moment your message may get lost in the cacophony that Facebook has become.

I step in from the cold and shake off the light coating of snow on my shoulders, I stop at my mailbox before heading to the warmth of my apartment. I open the little box that always brings me an exceeding amount of junk mail and flyers, way too many bills and very rarely a smile… only to see a single envelope. This little envelope bearing my name hand written on the front with a stamp carefully placed in the corner makes me pause. Who has taken the time to go through this lengthy ritual not only of writing this letter, or card judging by it’s weight, but of preparing it for mailing, possibly buying a stamp, definitely making a visit to the mailbox, possibly having to trudge through too much snow to get it there. How long ago was it written and how far has it journeyed? Putting off the warmth of my inviting home I tear open this envelope and have half read it, and given a cursory look to the photographs inside, before opening my door. I kick off my winter boots, throw off my coat and sit on my couch to give this communication my undivided attention, ignoring the notifications from my tablet that I have mail waiting and Facebook posts to read… I sit and read and smile….

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