Ideas
September 12, 2016 6:16 AM EDT

It’s easy for adults to bemoan that kids today are growing up typing, not writing. But the typed word is no less intellectual than longhand, argues Anne Trubek in her new book, The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting. Our attachments to handwriting, she explains, are “primarily emotional,” and our associations with intelligence and neat lettering have fluctuated over time–we’ve variously linked bad handwriting with intelligence (think: doctors) and stupidity (teachers have been found to subconsciously give lower grades to papers with worse penmanship). What’s important is not the neatness of our prose but the volume: “If anything, we are in a golden age of writing,” Trubek contends. “Most Americans write hundreds if not thousands more words a day than they did 10 or 20 years ago. We have supplanted much talking and phone calling with texting, emailing and social media.”

–SARAH BEGLEY

This appears in the September 12, 2016 issue of TIME.

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