It is hard to believe, or at least at this point in time, it is hard to imagine that the written word will ever truly die. Even in 2008 there are still many roadblocks when it comes to eliminating the written word. First off, there are still millions of people in the world who cannot afford to purchase a computer or a cell phone to send text or instant messages to other people. Secondly, there are still a good number of people who prefer to read a book, or to hand write a message. Thirdly, no matter what, there will always be people who will not understand how to use the given technology.
Lets look at the first roadblock to a world free of the written word. In some parts of the world, and in America as well, there just isn’t enough money to spare to buy a computer. This is unfortunate, because in most cases, the ability to use a computer is directly related to the ability to advance in most jobs, and therefore in society itself. While there have been significant cuts in the costs of computers and cell phones in recent years, there are still large portions of the world where most people only make a couple of dollars a day. These scant paychecks can barely cover food or shelter let alone a luxury such as a computer. So assuming that people who are making such low wages even have the time to spare to write, or even have time to learn to write, have the desire to write, they would do so with whatever is available to them.
Secondly, there is still a large segment of the population that would prefer to not use a computer. People who are older, and may not see the need for 24/7 communication may just be content to write a hand written letter or to talk on the phone, as it is more familiar and easier to do. Also, there are still plenty of times when a hand written or manually created piece of work is more appropriate. A love note for a wife’s birthday, or a hand written note in a lunch box say more about taking the time to show appreciation for that person than a simple text or an IM. There are plenty of mundane uses for the written word too. An out of order sign can just be a hand written note on a piece of cardboard, or a sign could be hand written until a computer generated one can be made.
Lastly, there will always be a segment of the population that simply will not be able to understand how to use the technology. A lot of people don’t have cell phones merely because they have become so complicated. What was originally a product that was meant to be a portable phone has become a phone/text machine/camera/Internet, and has become something that people can barely use. Computers are also a very intimidating thing for some people still, and that is not just for older people. There are plenty of people who are younger, who cannot use a computer, or at least cannot use it for more than just browsing the Internet and sending e-mail.
So for those reasons, the written word will always survive. Even if one day it is not needed, the written word is a window into the past, and at the very least will always be a novelty that some people will still take the time to master. The written word will never die, it is just too much an element that makes us social.