Why’s it gotta be a grid

As someone who voluntarily (!) uses Linux on the desktop and voluntarily (!!) browses Linux-related message boards, I see people arguing that an 80x24 monochrome character grid and an ANSI keyboard are the pinnacle of human-computer interaction, and that anyone who wants more is a normie who should go back to Facebook. I could rant about a lot, but let’s focus on letters.

I really don’t get it. Printed text has been variable-width for hundreds of years. We grow up reading variable-width lettering. Newspapers, books, magazines, almost every form of written text has formatting. When I open a man page and see an unending, unbroken grid of characters, my eyes glaze over. I’m just trying to figure out why grep doesn’t find the thing I’m grepping for, why is this 5000-page infodump so hard to skim? Why can’t I find a nicely-formatted document with this info, with properly-sized headers and margins that is easier to read?

Of course, I’m a casual who isn’t worthy of the genius that is The Unix Design. Maybe everyone who complains about this sort of stuff is just wrong. But I would ask developers to consider why computers exist. Computers were created as a tool to make humans’ lives easier. We use tools to do things that we can’t (or don’t want to) do. When a tool becomes faster or easier to use, we all win.

So if a tool is designed in a way that the majority of people have difficulty using, and said annoyances have no discernable benefit for existing besides inertia, can’t we make the tool easier to use?