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Being a bit of an old soul means that I do find a use, need and functionality for analog tools. In the digital era it can be hard to remind ourselves to take a break from the screen and engage in the physical world around us. One of my favorite singer/songwriters of all time, Phoebe Bridgers has a lyric that I adore from her song “Garden Song,” that reads, “One day I’m gonna look up from my phone and see my life and its gonna be just like my dream we’re at the movies, I don’t remember what I’m seeing, the screen turns into a tidal wave.” I personally aspire to make sure I always look up before that time passes. In a digital world where education, journalism, digital first newsrooms and more are all focused online — finding that balance can be hard. I write my notes in class with a pen and paper and I always have. I have found I retain information better on paper, rather than typing while listening to a lecture and letting my brain wander. I can also add little anecdotes on the side while the professor is speaking, and I like to keep my brain interacted by color coordinating. I have a tweet from my sophomore year when I had my first in-person college class that said “Why does everyone takes notes on their computers? I will stick to my glitter pens!
Research has found that doing things the traditional way, slower and less convenient, is actually the better option — because physically writing can improve your retention of the material and thus boosts your ability to review and study. When writing by hand, you are exposed more to critically thinking. In classes where spelling counts such as my Spanish class, writing helps me learn how to spell the words and where to accurately put my accents. Hurra!
I also keep this method in other parts of my life. When writing a song, I still write it out in my song book and my daily planner is still a cute floral planner with Tim Burton stickers. I find without these journals and books I lose a sense of warmth, stillness and presence in my life. I don’t think I have the nicest handwriting, but something within me finds that charming and it’s as though we are making a mark on our life — such as when I was studying in England, and I went to museums and saw handwritten lyrics by Lennon and poems by Plath. I have always been somewhat of an old soul and even though I am fascinated by media and storytelling, I have been reluctant to throw away analog tools and join Google Calendar. I have no Google Calendar. Wow. This year I got a beautifully decorated strawberry binder and glued pictures of Harry Styles to each folder for each class, and most classes have no paper to pass out. It breaks my heart to see my little cute folders all alone and lonely!
A lot is lost in a digital world. My most treasured items are my handwritten letters from my grandmother. We are analog creatures at heart. Must we never forget the love we had, wrote down … and shipped across the sea in a bottle.
Beth Gonzales, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s media law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the following question: Is there a place for analog tools in today’s digital environment? Would you ever consider using a paper to do list or taking notes in a spiral notebook? The class covers copyright and social media. Beth is a Journalism major.
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