“Sounds Right to Me” is an occasional column in which Megan Reynolds and Emily Alford, Jezebel’s logic experts, explain why something that sounds wrong is actually completely right.
In our inaugural edition of “Sounds Right to Me,” Megan and I will tackle the reason that the widely loathed MacBook keyboard is actually the best keyboard: It’s loud as hell.
Megan: For the duration of my life, I have been what can be politely described as, uh, loud. I lack volume control in situations that call for it most urgently. If someone tells me that the person behind me is famous or that their dick is sticking out of their trousers just a touch, it is physically difficult for me to exercise restraint, subtlety or discretion. I will inevitably turn around as if compelled by a demon and gawp. This explanation serves me well to clarify why it is I feel so strongly about the MacBook keyboard, which is objectively terrible functionally, but does one thing very well: it’s loud. It screams. Typing on it makes me feel powerful. I will not be silenced.
Emily: Huh, it seems we are both right but for diametrically opposed reasons. I am, what might be described as quiet. When I was a child, I spent most of my time hidden behind a huge steamer trunk that sat, for unclear reasons, in a corner of my grandmother’s living room. She had to coax me out with lemon cookies. Someone in a graduate workshop once said I was so still that they sometimes would watch to see if they could visibly detect me breathing, and they could not. I am constantly inundated with “Huh?” and “Could you please stop mumbling?” I once stood right next to Rosanna Arquette, trembling inside, but audibly saying nothing. However, most of my writing should probably be in all caps, as internally, I am positively shouting. Banging on a loud ass keyboard, like the MacBook keyboard, feels as if I am writing at the volume I am thinking, and that volume is fucking 11. I will constantly be self-silenced, but not at this (in all other ways objectively terrible) keyboard, bitch.
Megan: Having met Emily but for a few brief days, I can say that she IS quiet, but I think it’s because of her charming Southern nature. Just a theory. Back to the keyboard, though, which is the meat of this discussion: a loud keyboard is truly the only way to feel productive. This fact is supported by one of my first interactions with former Jezebel senior editor Joanna Rothkopf, who sat next to me maybe three offices ago when I first started at Jezebel. My typing was loud. I apologized for my typing, which I thought was actually not that loud, and she accepted in kind. Was it loud because I am naturally loud? Yes. Was it loud because it was my first week at Jezebel and I was trying very hard to impress my peers, the readers, and myself by writing blogs about Chrissy Teigen’s asshole? You bet your bippy. Typing with conviction means that the words that I am writing actually mean something! I have not done a study because I’m bad at science, but history will show that the loudest typers in the room are really the ones with something very important to say. It’s me, bitch. And Emily, it’s you?
Emily: Megan, I think your theory can be best proved by every movie about Important Journalism. Are the Woodwards and Bernsteins of the silver screen sitting around the office quietly fingering out wormy little ideas? No. They are finger-blasting some Pulitzer words, and those words are evidenced by improbably loud typewriter noises. Loud typing is the equivalent of straight-piping a muscle car. It forces people to take note of you whether they want to or not. The satisfying typewriter clacks of the, again otherwise terrible, MacBook keyboard are the writing equivalent of a bad gas mileage, no seatbelt having, shitty-yet-still appealing souped up Chevelle. Maybe they’re annoying, but they made you look.
Megan: I point to Look Who’s Talking, a movie about talking sperm that is also maybe pro-life, for yet another example of loud tappity tappity. In this movie, Kirstie Alley plays an accountant who has an affair with her boss and bears their child—a blonde moppet named Mikey whose inner monologue is, inexplicably, the voice of Bruce Willis. At one point in the movie, Kirstie Alley is in her paramour’s large office, frantically tapping the keys of a giant, late ‘80s adding machine (calculator?), which is spitting out reams of tape—a visual and aural treat that calls to mind the perverse satisfaction of watching a dot matrix printer do its little anachronistic dance. The force with which she struck those keys and the loud clacking conveyed to me not only the importance of doing your taxes and having a good accountant, but also the power of a strong index finger and a keyboard of any sort with powerful switches. I think that’s what they’re called, but I am not as smart as I seem. She was punching those keys like a woman scorned, and you know what, I bet those numbers got crunched way harder than they needed to be, but that’s okay. She! Was! Mad! I knew it because of the typing.
Emily: “Punching Keys Like a Woman Scorned: Loud Typing as Signifier for Female Rage in the Films of Amy Heckerling.” That sounds like a dissertation just waiting to be written. But there is a sort of violence to loud typing that gets me very worked up at my keyboard even if I’m just writing about, like, what whales may be whispering about in the depths of a roiling sea. The resulting racket from the strike of the keys makes me feel like a concert pianist building up to a crescendo. I am convinced it makes the writing better, and there is absolutely nothing which proves me wrong. Therefore, it sounds right to me.