It’s safe to say that we take writing for granted these days, so I thought it’d be prudent to take a few moments to reflect on why writing is so special.
Like all inventions, writing evolved to fulfill a need—in this case, it was an answer to the limitations of spoken language: Before writing, communication could only happen if two people coincided in time and space. Speech was ephemeral, disappearing as soon as it was muttered. And the speed of its interpretation was limited by the speed of the speaker. Perhaps most importantly, the speaker had to keep everything he wanted to say in his head—this took an enormous dedication of memory.
With writing, everything changed:
- We can communicate with people far away.
- We can communicate with posterity.
- Our thoughts, once recorded, can last forever.
- We can read much faster than we can listen or speak.
- We can write things down to relieve our memories.
Miraculous, isn’t it?