Remember the notes we used to write our girlfriends in Junior High?
Four or five times a week we’d exchange these large volumes of nonsense with each other. Page after page of dumb questions and even dumber answers, all skirting around the fact that what we really wanted to do was suck face on somebody’s couch for an hour and a half.
The sad part is, with email and texting none of the kids these days are experiencing the time and effort it took to craft a good love note. The whole thing got me wondering who has it better, the digital kids of today or those of us who grew up in the handwritten generation.
Let’s break it down:
Hand Strength – From 6th grade through 8th grade I wrote more sentences than Shakespeare, Stephenie Meyer, and Hemingway combined. As a result, I’ve got a firm handshake and still have a callous on my right ring finger that’s thicker than the skin on Kathy Bates’ heels. Kids these days might have nimble fingers from all that texting, but overall handshake strength in their generation is down 39%. Advantage: Handwritten.
Hand Cleanliness – Typing out a love note on your phone or laptop is a no-mess situation unless you’re doing it while wolfing down a bag of Doritos (something I heartily recommend). Writing a note however, wasn’t so clean. By the time you were done the entire pinky finger side of your hand was as blue as Smurfette’s cleavage. Advantage: Digital.
Doodling – The best thing about a note was the doodling you could do in the margins. Romantic types could throw in a few poorly drawn hearts or a barrage of XOXOXOXO when they saw fit. The emo kids could draw a picture of the two of you wearing eyeliner and drinking poison together like Romeo and Juliet. The possibilities were endless. There’s no doodling with texting, but there is sexting, which is a huge problem with teenagers right now. Lord knows none of us went through the hassle of developing naughty pictures of ourselves and sticking them in our love notes when we were 16. Although I’m fairly confident that if sexting was around back then I wouldn’t have participated unless I wanted to give my girlfriend an immediate reason to dump me. Advantage: Handwritten.
Privacy – Passing a note in class was the closest you got as a kid to being an actual spy. There was an evil genius to defeat (the teacher), precious cargo to protect (the note), and serious consequences if your mission went awry (note confiscation). Some teachers pretended to throw the notes out when they caught them, but I’m guessing there was nothing that raised the spirits in the Teacher’s Lounge more than a public note reading. That’s why the mission was so important. You’ll never be able to look your algebra teacher in the eye again if she finds out you think Jennie “has a nice butt”. I guess kids have similar issues with using their cellphones in class these days, but it’s not the same. There was something harrowing about releasing a note into the wild and trusting the 7 classmates it had to get through to get to your girlfriend that you can’t replicate with an email or text. I kinda miss that danger. Advantage: Handwritten.
Secret Lingo – Back when we hand-wrote notes we didn’t have an entire language of acronyms. The best we could do was “Sorry So Short, Longer Letter Later” or “2-gether, 4-ever” in the bottom margin. Kids these days have an acronym for 90% of the things they want to say, and for the remaining 10% they can always say SNAFU (Sorry No Acronym For U). Advantage: Digital.
Presentation – The only presentation options you have with an email are what to put in the subject line, and that grows old pretty quick. With notes, we had creative folding. Remember the folding? I had girlfriends that could turn a regular sized piece of paper into a symmetrical heart in 7 seconds. Some of them could fold a 5-page note into a square the size of a scrabble tile. It was new-age origami fueled by the passion of young love. Advantage: Handwritten.
To me it’s no contest.
We had it better when our notes were handwritten and the color of our hands reminded us of Smurfette’s curves.