I love the Internet. It really can show us good things about this world. It brings us closer together, even though we could be physically far apart. It helps make the world feel like a smaller place. One of my favorite things is being able to find a community of people who are interested in the same topic that I am. No matter how seemingly small or esoteric, odds are in your favor that you’ll find a group with similar interests.
Recently, two of my interests collided. While I normally reserve my Instagram account account for pen- and stationery-related images, I happened to post some images about another of my interests: mechanical (and/or) ergonomic keyboards. Pens and keyboards? At first glance, these two topics seem to be at opposites of the spectrum. Sure, I know that in this day and age, most everyone uses computers, and therefore keyboards. But I was a bit surprised to realize how many people, not only employed in the IT field, also are quite involved in pens and stationery.
Indeed, in comments on a few of those images, people such as @emraher and @dandon375 asked in the comments on those images why some pen people are also keyboard people. Gentleman Stationer has written a couple of articles about his use of mechanical keyboards, yet also recently explained why he writes with a pen in his day job. However, I don’t think that this phenomenon is solely limited to the intersection of analog and digital.
The word geek has traditionally had more of a negative connotation, but has been used more recently to mean someone who is passionate about a subject. Indeed, I can definitely say that I “geek out” about fountain pens and stationery. I “geek out” about mechanical keyboards too. But there are a wide array of topics that I also geek out about. To me, it’s about caring about something deeply. I want to ensure that when I get something, it’s the best product that I can get that meets my needs.
Think about it for a moment. Us pen folk, we care how much an ink shades and sheens, or how smooth it is. We care about the particular way a nib feels. Some like glassy smooth. Others prefer a bit more feedback. Some of us cannot stand nibs that “sing” or make noise when used. But what about the vast majority of the world? Hand them the Bic or whatever came out of their office supply cabinet and they’re happy. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t passionate about some other subject. Writing instruments simply aren’t their “thing”.
I feel that many of us in the pen community are naturally more passionate about our things. For me, owning and trying a lot of pens has a particular purpose. I’m not planning on having a large collection of pens. My goal was to find what works best for me after trying as much as I wanted to. The idea was to refine my tastes and keep only what I needed. I’m pretty much done with the discovery part of my journey for pens. Now comes the task of deciding what stays with me.
You see, that’s the same reason I’m trying many different ergonomic and mechanical keyboards. What key switches work best for me? Cherry MX? Gateron? Matias? Topre? Do I like linear or tactile keys? With or without the audible click? How much force do I like for my keys? Do I prefer tenkeyless? Split? Tented? The criteria go on and on. The end goal is to determine what will work best for me at work, where I cannot have a loud clicky keyboard that would disturb others, and what I would want to use at home. In the end, after playing with all these keyboards, I’ll likely end up with two.
I’m willing to bet that most of us in the pen community that are particularly passionate are also particularly “particular”. To me, that’s a good thing. Think about other things in your life. Are you equally passionate about some other topics?
Typed on my WASD V2 87-Key mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Red switches in Dvorak-QWERTY mode on my Mac.