The Things We Write Down

Mary Catherine - Birmingham, Alabama
Entered on December 12, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I’ve started to hate the internet a little bit. It’s all so casual, informal, everyone is at everyone else’s disposal 100% of the time. I can type and text at lightning speed, and I hate myself a little for that, too. Where did romance go? I’m not talking about man/woman, I’m talking about world/person. When did we stop romanticizing life by writing things down on paper and finishing with triumphant ink smudges from crossed out lines?

Saving text messages seems silly to me. And yet, if I receive something special, it goes straight into the saved messages box. Really it’s just a bunch of light projection on a screen. It’s a figment. Nothing concrete. And because there’s no decipherable handwriting, no curiously dotted “i’s” or funny shaped “q’s,” it is that much more difficult to imagine the person across the wire, writing it all down.

Really, the sentiment gets saved away. It’s the principle of the thing. That kind of justifies it. Kind of.

The bottom line (do we even have lines anymore?) is that I’m getting older and I can live without every special text message or e-mail locked away. I can remember exactly what I felt about a person, friend or otherwise, because they left a written message on everything that makes me, me. They signed my heart on their way out the door. However many messages are floating around in cyberland, I’ll always have the record that they were there. And it’s not for proof. It’s for protection from my own doubt, when I, inside my own head, begin to wonder whether it is really my life that has been so richly filled with experience. Good or bad, heartbreaking or heartbuilding, the beauty is in the handwriting.

These are the things we write down. This, I believe.