Across the room from me sits a middle-aged guy with a grey beard, good looking and well dressed. He is holding up his cup of what I assume is coffee with one hand, and his phone with the other. His face changes into a pose that reminds me of “Blue Steel” from the movie Zoolander, or an understated duckface if you will. Yes, he is taking a selfie.
I wasn’t born anywhere near the 1950s, yet sometimes I seem to feel more connected to the lifestyle I see in movies set in that time than to what I see on the street. I love technology, don’t get me wrong. But putting ink on paper, or light on film, has one distinct advantage over all modern technology – it makes you think.
Recently I wrote a short letter on a typewriter, and I instantly regretted my decision. It is hard. Most of my life, at least after my teacher stopped forcing us to use a fountain pen, I’ve learned to do something and then figure out if it works. I grew up in an undo society. Start typing, then correct the mistakes. Take a picture, then decide whether it was worth taking.
We live in an amazing time. And I strongly believe that the benefits of lowering the consequences of mistakes outweigh having to look at a grown man stretching out his arm to take a picture in a public place. But sometimes, just sometimes, it would be great to have that typewriter back, where every button press leaves a printed letter on the page.
Text and photography by Mike Zwahlen.
Mike Zwahlen works for Google and moonlights as a writer and photographer. He is the co-founder and Creative Director of Elusive Magazine and lives in Los Angeles, California.