An Ode to A User Friendly Pencil

6 June 2016

Once, called away to an unanticipated school conference, I began drafting my short noticed speech with a yellow wooden pencil. Unfortunately this graphite loaded, eraser-tipped writing spear has become an alienated object as I readily admit my dependence on a new technology of writing. I found that I had become so used to composing virtual prose that I could no longer draft anything coherent directly onto a piece of paper. It wasn’t so much that I couldn’t think of the words, but the deliberate physical effort of handwriting, crossing out, revising, cutting and pasting was much too tedious. The writing practices that I had been engaged in regularly since the age of four, now seemed to overwhelm and constrict me as I longed for the flexibility of digitized text.

The computer is the latest development in writing technology; a promises to change literary practices for better. Bonnie Laing, the author of the essay “An Ode to the User-Friendly Pencil” is strongly against the boycotting pencils. Unfortunately, Laing’s argument that the pencil is superior to a computer is poorly demonstrated due to her biased diction towards analog writing instruments and ignorance of the current technologically driven era.

An Ode to A User Friendly Pencil Essay Example

Moreover, a major flaw noted within Laing’s writing is that she establishes an impractical prejudice for pencils. For instance, Laing attempts to persuade the reader using an irrational rhetorical question where she cautions “…can you imagine chewing on computer while balancing your cheque book” (15). Through this question, Laing attempts to justify the pencil’s usefulness; however, chewing any writing instrument is irrelevant since the function of neither the computer nor the pencil is to be chewed on. Additionally, the whimsical diction Laing produced within her essay such as “I’ve never had to boot a pencil” implies that Laing does not take the topic seriously enough to actually prove the superiority of pencils and would rather manipulate the readers’ interest by mocking and ridiculing the computer (8).

Furthermore, our current society has migrated from an era of pencils, to an era of computers as the primary tool to create literature. Society has reached a point in time where if pencils become obsolete, it would not make a great impact due to the availability of computers. Also, society has become highly dependent on laptops and personal computers (PC’s) as it remains the quickest way to socialize via social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

Not only did the transition from a pencil and paper to a computer allow for a faster and more efficient method of creating literature, but it also came with several luxuries that include: word processors, internet, software, social networks, data storage, and entertainment. Therefore Laing’s view towards computers is simply personal since a pencil can only perform the function of basic writing and yet a computer can enhance the same function with numerous technological advancements.

Likewise, in current day education, assignments and subject courses are becoming mandatory in a virtual environment. Assignments are now being typed and submitted so that the writing is more legible. Needless to say, computers have the extraordinary capability of capturing grammar mistakes instantly. Although this is a positive feature of computers, Laing’s ignorance displays otherwise when she argues that pencils “…won’t insist on correcting your whimsical use of grammar” (17). Hence showing that Laing is uninformed about computers and their role in our current society because she critiques the positive aspects of a computer rather than pointing out legitimate drawbacks of the pencil.

Upon summation, a computer is more superior than a pencil as it serves several functions rather than one and is fundamentally integrated within current days’ technologically-driven society. Laing has failed to persuade the reader of the pencils superiority to computers because her sarcastic persuasion displays a noticeable bias towards pencils. The ordinary pencil is too primitive to be compared to the likes of a computer. Computers yield a new era. Comparing two unlike items such as a pencil to a computer (that vary so drastically in usefulness) is just as foolish as comparing the capabilities of a rock to that of a human.

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