Recently I attended career day at a local elementary school. School administrators downplayed the thought of me speaking as an unemployed punk mandolin player. So I decided to talk to the young students, telling kids they too could have a future in diagramming sentences for a living. 

As I waited my turn to speak, I looked around the classroom and noticed the yellow, double-ruled posters from my own youth, comparing the alphabet in cursive and block letters, were missing. When I asked the teacher how they were doing with longhand writing, I was informed, like many school districts across the country, the kids in this institution were not being taught cursive.

Many people blame the decline of penmanship on Common Core Standards, which never mention the word cursive—the extinction of a long-handwritten thank-you note for a birthday present from grandma the result of some communist conspiracy to overthrow America. It is as if script writing somehow defined the castes of modern society. 

Someday historians will chronicle the downfall of a primitive art form used for expressing cognitive thought on something. Personally, I think it is that Steve Jobs must have hated baseball. 

I got hooked on collecting autographs at a young age. My old man would take me to see the Cincinnati Reds play at old Crosley Field. Once at the park, I’d join in with a bunch of kids who would line the tunnel to the locker rooms, stretching our necks to see who was coming out next. All our value as a human being suddenly rested on who would sign our scorecard.

Occasionally, the stars would stop and sign. But most of the time I’d head back to our seats with the autograph of some player like Angel Bravo. To hear me tell the story the next day at school, Bravo might as well have been Pete Rose—heroically running out a blooper to second rather than gathering splinters in the dugout. 

I have noticed over the years that the selfie has replaced the autograph at ballparks. Kids still line the field, but instead of scorecards and sharpies, they have iPhones in their hands. They hope for their heroes to walk by, press their cheeks against theirs just long enough for a photograph. The smoothly flowing autograph has been replaced by a snapshot on a cell phone, the posting of the photo to social media the equivalent of passing the signature around at lunch. 

It appears as if no one cares about anyone else’s signatures, let alone their own.

Parents and educators defend the removal of cursive from schools by stating that most work is done today on computers where cursive is just another font from which to choose. The teacher told me that kids are becoming so proficient with their personal electronic devices at such an early age that handwriting is obsolete.

Maybe, but let’s see the next generation sign a binding contract with a meme of their cat.