I hope this post finds you and your family well. I am writing to you today to remind you of one of the most enjoyable pastimes that has been lost, an unexpected victim of the inevitable onward march of technology: the art of letter writing. While I can’t pretend to be a master of the craft, I sometimes grow nostalgic for an age when people communicated in messages longer than 140 characters. Twitter, Facebook, email and text messaging all offer fantastic benefits of their own, but there is something about the stately elegance of a longer format that calls out to me.
In truth, new technologies in the world of media do not completely replace their predecessors, despite many claims – and fears – to the contrary. The television did not completely replace the radio, and the Internet has not replaced the television, but sometimes it seems that tweets and text messages have replaced the carefully-worded letter. While it’s still possible to engage in a lengthy correspondence via postal mail, the delivery speed of email cannot be denied – but that should not stop us from taking the time to really communicate with those we want to speak to.
You may ask, “Why not simply use a telephone if you want a longer conversation?” It is a fair question, of course, but the answer lies in that most precious of all commodities: time. A telephone call demands a near-instant reaction from both parties involved, where a letter allows one the luxury of time for reflection and consideration of the best possible reply, no matter the conversation. A letter allows for a special poetry that a telephone call rarely does, an intensely personal expression of thought that brings a deeper level of communication.
This depth of communication makes the letter one of the perfect methods of communicating with family, both those still near to us and those whom life has taken to distant places. The next time you feel the need to reach out to those closest to you or those most missed, instead of reaching for the telephone, consider the lost art of letter writing. Pour out your thoughts into the longer, quieter form; spend a bit more of your time crafting a message that really, truly speaks to your loved ones – you might be surprised at the depth of the reply you receive.