Today’s pen is as mighty as the sword

The world of communication, like most human undertakings, cannot escape the vast changes driven by technological advances and pivotal innovations. In fact, communication both embraces and is at the forefront of the technological revolution.


Those who keep abreast of developments and dabble in “futures” investments, are well aware that we are living during the Fourth Industrial Revolution, one which is likely to see the most numerous and significant changes to the way things are done.

Are we ready to entertain and adapt to these inevitable changes?

In bygone days, the two most significant forces in communication and power were the sword and the pen. Each would carry sway at times, depending on the circumstances. History records that there was an ongoing ebb and flow of the superiority of these abiding forces in the affairs of man.

One of the views on their relationship was expressed by Terry Pratchett: “The pen is mightier than the sword if the sword is very short, and the pen is very sharp.”

According to Horace, “the pen is the tongue of the mind”.

Andy Biersack contends that “the pen and the written word hold a great deal of power”.

Clearly the process of the written word has undergone profound changes during recent times and “the pen” and as such the consequently takes on a whole new meaning.

Facebook, e-mails, WhatsApp and the myriad of derivatives are the modern vehicles for written communication. The implications are vast.

The question that is likely to occur to many is whether the technological developments that have taken communication and the “power of the pen” to the dizzying heights of the vast range of social media, and instantaneous written, verbal and visual interaction, have enhanced the quality of human life.

The benefits are obvious, but has enough attention been given to the many dangers associated with these modes of communication?

Some may argue that in a strange twist, the modern pen has become a dangerous, threatening sword in many ways.

Consider the number of users who are become addicted to Facebook and other social media.
What has happened to healthy, face-to-face conversations in families and with friends who are with you and not at other locations?

How about the vast numbers of adolescents and teenagers who have developed anxiety and other health issues flowing from cyber-bullying? The indiscriminate and reckless sending of inappropriate photographs via social media has destroyed relationships and lives.

Is the pen mightier than the sword, or has the pen become the sword?

A somewhat nostalgic view from Juan Felipe Herrera adds a credible perspective: “A pen is different from the pad, the key, moving your fingers across a screen. I like both. I like to work on sketchbooks, big old white sketch paper. I like how that feels, and I like to put different media on it. Then there’s the phone, smartphone, iPad: It’s the new page, and it’s not the same page anymore.”


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