In our last post, we began exploring the idea that Millennials are capable of more than just massacring the establishment. Winter is a necessary precedent to spring, death aides in the continuation of life, and destruction precedes creation. In other words, Millennials may have “killed” myriad industries with the intention of recreating or reconstructing them and bringing them into the 21st century. In this case, we are specifically focusing on the evolution of cursive and its role in modern society.
As we stated previously, cursive has become a politicized topic in recent years, with the old-guard arguing that learning to write in longhand is a tradition that helps build discipline and character and the progressives stating that learning cursive in school takes time away from other subjects and feeds the idea of uniformity over individuality. Interestingly enough, people become more interested in traditions such as cursive when they feel as though the state of moral affairs is in jeopardy, when they fear chaos had begun to reign over order within a society. People are afraid of change and it’s sometimes difficult for society as a whole to depart from canonical literature.
On a political level, certain states go so far as to mandate it in their Common Core (California, Louisiana, Virginia, among others), while others have decided to make it optional (New Jersey, for example). Some modern advocates say students should be able to choose to learn longhand of their own accord. Instead of taking a semester of theater, for instance, they can take a course in cursive. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign even offers camps that teach the “fading art of reading and writing in cursive.”
Psychologically, others argue that writing in cursive activates different parts of the brain than writing in print and improves fine motor skills, dexterity and memory. It also helps in the development of neat handwriting, and students with neater handwriting also tend to learn to read and write with more ease. Certain families who want their children to learn cursive, essentially homeschool them on the matter; there are even materials one can purchase, workbooks for learning at home.
Others yet simply like the aesthetic. And that’s arguably what Millennials are getting excited about, because Millennials are all about the ‘a e s t h e t i c.’ They are fascinated by the visual–think Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat, etc. Not coincidentally, it could be argued that Millennials are the most nostalgic generation ever. And what better way to trigger and share nostalgia than through the use of social media: it is infinitely shareable and recyclable, a form of escapism in which we can pick and choose the best moments from any era or from any part of our own lives.
Though Millennials may not necessarily always choose to write in cursive on a daily basis, it doesn’t take long to find a 20-something who recently uploaded a photo of their newest tattoo if you scroll through your Instagram feed or a wedding invitation on Pinterest written in cursive. So, for now, we aren’t ready to say so long(hand) to cursive. We will continue to wear our grandmothers’ broaches on our thrifted blazers and try to recreate our grandfathers’ majestic facial hair styles. And, just as it was argued the Enlightenment had “killed” the possibility of an omnipotent and singular God, we can philosophize that Millennials have in fact revived more elements from days of yore than they have killed.