The Dying Art of Letter Writing;
When was the last time you picked up a pen and wrote a letter? Perhaps this past Christmas? I personally pen a Christmas letter to put into all my Christmas cards. It is newsy, smattered with pictures, and highlights some of my closest friends’ and family’s events that touched mine in the past year. If there is room, I even add a brief personal hello to the specific recipient, but that often comes in the form of a mere sentence or two within the card itself. I like to think it brings friends and family from far and wide back into my life regardless of the distance that separates us. It might be started on actual paper, but ultimately is printed off en masse from the computer.
It isn’t the same as a hand-written letter.
So I start again. When was the last time I wrote a letter? That is infinitely more difficult to answer. The answer isn’t never, but it has been a while. When I was a child, I used to regularly write letters back and forth to my grandmother who lived across the country. The price of a stamp was relatively cheaper than a phone call and the thrill of receiving a missive in the mail was so much more satisfying. She would tell me about what was going on in her world and I would excitedly scribble back about events in mine the moment I finished reading her letter.
After treks across Europe and Africa, I picked up new pen pals in the form of friends I met along the way. Once I returned home, I would be thrilled to discover stamps from Australia, England, Germany, South Africa, and more in my mail. It made the world a smaller place, and I felt connected to a few more parts of it.
Enter the age of emails and that world has changed. Now we can zip off a word, sentence or as many paragraphs as we want, hit send and the person potentially has that message in an instant. That’s a good thing, right? Instant communication…
My answer is yes and no.
I love being able to hear back from someone right away about important details that are timely. It is so incredibly convenient to attach photos, documents or pdf files to a message and know that even if there is an issue, they can be resent immediately. We live in a world of ‘right now’ and email enables that. I won’t even go into the many other ways we can communicate today.
What I am lamenting today is the loss of anticipation. I miss receiving letters from my grandmother. She is in a nursing home now and could no longer write hand-written letters even if she wanted to. Dementia has stolen that ability from her, but it wouldn’t matter anyway. We could tweet, skype, have an instant chat, or even pick up the phone to communicate today. It is faster and more convenient, but lacks that thrill of looking into your mail box and seeing something addressed to you. Bills don’t count and even those can be automated via the net too.
All those postcards, aerograms, and letters that used to connect me to the world have disappeared in the ease of instant communication, and now I find that I have nothing to say. I almost never pick up a pen to write “Dear anybody…”. You have already read about my day in my Facebook status update, so what else is left? Our personalization now has to be thought out and scheduled into a too busy life. And I can’t attach the perfect gif pic to emphasize my thoughts.
I suppose that is why I blog. I can still write out my thoughts and touch people. I can bring the world to my door, even if you don’t have to decipher my chicken scratches. For that you might be thankful. Do I have any letter writers within my followers? Do you still communicate with snail mail just for the thrill of receiving something in the mail? What does your handwriting say about you?