A case for bringing back letter writing

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Technology such as smartphones and laptops have allowed us to connect with people all over the world in a matter of seconds. If I’m missing my best friend in Poland, all I have to do is whip out my phone and send a quick text. It’s so convenient that sometimes it doesn’t feel like she ever left.

There’s no denying that things like Facetime, emails, messaging apps and social media have completely changed the way we communicate with each other, and it has become much easier to maintain friendships and relationships. But does easier always mean better?

What have we lost, or given up, to the convenience of text messages and phone calls? Here I begin my case for the revival of a lost art; writing letters. 

Letter writing may seem a much more time-consuming, costly and generally pointless method of communication today. Why waste all that time, all that money, to express something that easily could have been sent as a text. I think, though, that that is exactly what makes handwritten letters so valuable. The effort.

Pic: Pexels

The thought that goes into every letter, time spent poring over your words and perfecting your handwriting. When we decided to trade in our handwritten letters for the convenience of a text or email, we also gave away the intimacy, care and love that personal letters always contain.

Unlike more modern forms of communication, handwritten letters have always been inherently more than just a way to speak with someone. Sending someone a letter means you went through the effort of finding paper, a pen, stamps and an envelope. Then, you spend time thinking about that person as you write the letters, carefully choosing what to write next. Finally, you went out of your way to bring it to a letterbox or the post office.

That is why, even now as the art of letter writing gradually disappears further and further into the past, people really appreciate receiving letters. Probably even more so now than ever, because they are so rare.

We all still recognise the value and meaning behind a handwritten letter. Everybody still has that unspoken understanding that a letter can hold so much more love and care inside it than a text message or email, even if they both contain the exact same words. 

Pic: Pexels

And let’s think about the future for a second. When we are all old and grey, looking back on our lives, will we have a shoebox full of all the text messages and social media posts we’ve shared over the years?

A little envelope stuffed with all the emails we’ve sent to each other? I don’t think so. Letters have always been cherished and kept as a reminder of older times, old homes, old friendships. What will we have to remind us of everything when we are older? 

Even all of that aside, I think writing letters can help us. With the crazy developments we’ve made in the last few decades, we’ve turned into a society that values speed and efficiency over anything else. What’s the point in writing a letter that will take days to arrive, when you could say what you want to say to someone in a matter of seconds over the phone? What is the point?

Pic: Pexels

The point is that efficiency has almost completely replaced passion and care. We all need to slow down sometimes, definitely a lot more often than we do now. I’m not saying that we need to replace every digital message we send with a handwritten letter. Even I don’t see the point, or the practicality in sending a letter to your roommate to ask if they can let you in at 4 a.m. A letter probably wouldn’t be so suitable when you unexpectedly need to call in sick from work one morning.

Texts and emails really do come in handy at times. However, a get well soon letter, a thank you letter, a birthday card, a postcard, will always mean more to someone than a simple text. Show your loved ones that you really care about them, and give them something to keep with them forever, because although in the moment your correspondence with each other might seem completely unremarkable, in later years they will want something to remember your friendship with. So, next time you find yourself sending a lengthy email or text, why not bring out the pen and paper instead?


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