Should Chinese People Abandon Characters?

Is it possible? Last night over hot pot I was discussing about the matter with few fellow exchange students. It started with because Chinese characters are difficult even to Chinese themselves. Every week some of our teachers have to check the dictionary or his/her mobile to how to write a character. Because everyone is using computers to write, it seems to be hard to remember how to write by hand.

So should it be better to get rid of the characters and write with pinyin instead? I think that the pinyin we are using now isn’t enough to replace characters. For example for shi with fourth tone there seems to be over 40 different characters. One of my friends suggested that under or top of the pinyin you could add dots to sign the different meanings. This could be easy for syllables that have only few different meanings. But how messy would it be to try to mark all the 40+ different shi4?

But why were we really discussing about forgetting the hanzi? Are we worried about the Chinese people and how they use lot of time and energy to learn how to write their native language? Or are we just too lazy and don’t want to bother to learn the characters?

The history student in me also reminds that wouldn’t it be a great loss to ditch the characters? The first characters date back to Shang dynasty (1200-1050BC) so apart the modern day use the Chinese writing system also has it’s cultural and historical value. Shouldn’t it be protected like a world heritage site? Or will in in the future only researchers be able to read and write characters?

I do not have any scientific information or knowledge about this matter, so these are just my thoughts that rose during our conversation last night. I would be happy to hear more from you and if you have links to any relevant or interesting websites or blogs please let me know.

What you think? Is Chinese written language outdated and in need of drastic reform?