I might get hurt for saying this—and by hurt, I mean some nerds I know might throw some books or witty insults at me—but, seriously, I don’t think I’ll mourn the loss of this next generation’s knowledge of MLA or APA formatting conventions. Let the computers do it for them! There, I said it. … Oh, yes, I did.
Did I happen to mention that I fucking LOVE the Bibliography and Works Cited feature in Word? And I could almost French kiss Word’s ability to footnote, number pages, create head and foot—all with a single click and a few key strokes. Fingertip bliss! Not to mention the vaginal dew I get from its natural penchant for bulleting, numbering, changing case, alerting me to a misspelled word or random typo, and—love of all loves—then being able to change it without applying correctional fluid or white tape and having to type over the stupid chalky mess, thereby marring the entire half-wrinkled page which is especially distressing if using onion skin paper—lovely to handle, crisp, light, equal parts transparent and opaque, plus very delicate—however, completely inept at camouflaging Liquid Paper. Luckily, oftentimes, typing mistakes on onionskin can simply be erased.
But seriously, how many countless hours have we folks of a certain age (hint: those who, without irony, wore shoulder pads, leg warmers, Member’s Only jackets, and stirrup pants; the last of the generations still familiar with manual printing labors) spent trying to perfect the rolling of, not a joint, but a piece of paper into a typewriter (whether manual or electric), attempting to get it to feed straight enough so that the text did not come out looking like a piece of concrete poetry? Oh, those pesky platens and feed rollers! LOL. And how many times have we had to start a page over because we copied our draft of handwritten paragraphs in the wrong order? So not LOL. Half a page of White Out does not a good finished product make. Such mistakes used to be a waste of time, perfectly good pre-planning, and resources. We didn’t even recycle back then! Maybe, despite your age, right now you’re thinking, “What is this bitch talking about?” I bet you thought “Fingertip Bliss” was mildly, moderately, or, most hopefully, completely pornographic. Maybe you’re the person who got through school by resubmitting your older sister’s sub-par work as original merit. Maybe your mom typed and edited your papers for you. Maybe you simply never did your work, or were much better at math, or just didn’t, and still don’t, care about typographic pleasures. Maybe you’re still wondering why I used that LOL several sentences ago. But, hey, here we are. Still presumably together, chuckling and shaking our heads at the memory of these improbable pre-Word practices. That would likely put you in the nerd category. Please don’t throw a book at me.
But, really, no joke, moving from the rigors (and mental anguish) of manual typing to the relative ease of electronic typing, editing, and formatting is like going from walking on all fours to being a biped. Ok, that was gratuitous use of hyperbole, but you get the point. … There is a learning curve. Going from blank page to green screen to completely illuminated, spontaneously editable print screen has been millions of years of evolution in a single generation. It's not a proverbial walk in the park, but rather a crawl through the woods on bare knees. This nerd, for one, has spent more time learning how to make a Table of Contents in Word than it would have taken her to etch it in stone or type it on a rusty, gummy-keyed antique Royal typewriter. The process was fight or flight. But once I got it down—whoa! (as Cher would say it)—there was no going back, no stopping me. So, I say “right on!” to automated bibliographies, works cited pages, footnotes, spell check, and hyperlinks. “Right on!” to the complete abandonment of counting spaces, carriage returns, and tangibly messy edits. “Right on!” to word processing programs that suffer the technical aspects so we can focus on the creative ones.