Few people sit down to write letters anymore. No, I don’t mean a cover letter, or a business letter, or a letter to your bank explaining why you’re in debt. I mean old-fashioned-writing-to-someone-you-care-about letter writing. In this high-speed technological age, long-distance friendships are primarily maintained by phone calls, or else by e-mail, instant messaging, text messaging, or even posts on blogs or personal websites. It’s all about the speed. When you want to send a message to someone, you want it sent now…you want them to get it as quickly as possible, just so they know you were thinking of them.
Let’s face it–our computer culture has completely transformed long-distance communication. As a result, traditional letter writing has been reduced to becoming a formal method of business communication rather than a useful way for friends and family to keep in touch. This is not surprising…I mean, the term “snail mail” wasn’t coined randomly. It really does take a seemingly infinite expanse of time for physical mail to travel from sender to receiver, when compared to the nanosecond delivery of e-mail. When you’re dealing with intimate correspondence, who wants to wait?
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I do. I’ve learned that maintaining friendships at a distance by snail mail, rather than by digital communication, is a lot more rewarding. I love going to the mailbox and finding envelopes there with my name on them (except when they’re bills, then I wish they had someone else’s name…). The anticipation of receiving a reply from someone you care about is almost as good as hearing from them in the first place. It makes it that little bit more special, and allows the communication to seem as though it’s constant, rather than twice a year sputters of digital outpouring. It’s not fair to argue that e-mail has made letter writing completely obsolete, because it’s true that “letter” e-mails are still sent occasionally in between the masses of spam and chain letter forwards. But they’re just not the same.
Real, hand-written letters have personality that no amount of html coding can provide. They take thought and a lot more time to write out. Surprisingly, some of my closest and longest-lasting relationships have been primarily maintained by letter writing–granted, that could simply be because snail mail takes awhile…but I don’t think so.
Hand-written letters are enormously more personal that any emailtextmessageIMblogpostingtelephonecall could be. Everything from the paper to the ink markings, to notes scribbled on envelopes, doodles, real photos, and small gifts are more individual and unique than any online communication could ever be. Letters are authentic; they’re powerful.
You should try it sometime.