“Okay, I’ll send you a letter!” said no one ever.
But really, be honest. When is the last time someone mailed you a personal letter? I bet you remember because you either a) noticed how thoughtful it was, or b) thought it was weird, or, c) some combination of the two because who doesn’t love thoughtfulness and weirdness?
In any case, I think that there is something so beautiful about a handwritten letter, and it’s sad they don’t hold as much relevance in today’s society. The combination of seeing somebody’s handwriting scrawled across the page, the postdate stamp looking all artistic, and the sheer idea of receiving mail all make me feel giddy and nostalgic.
My parents raised my brother and I as strict thank-you noters—not a single gift or birthday card goes unthanked by either of us. As a kid, I was in constant correspondence with my sister-in-law who, looking back, was such a trooper for putting up with my lengthy notes idolizing her. Waiting for her mystical, fairy-sticker-covered letters was part of my daily ritual. Even now, I find myself writing letters to friends who have found themselves around the world and lacking constant access to computers. That is precisely the reason that letters have fallen out of style: technological advances.
A study cited by the Wall Street Journal found that the average time since an adult put a pen to paper for any reason was forty-one days, and in the past two decades, the US Postal Service noted that the number of letters mailed dropped by 10 billion.
Of course, there is surely something to the modern day email and text message. They’re instantaneous, you can send them from your smartphone, and they’re so much easier to edit and send to multiple people. But what will our children have to read? Instead of leafing through Love Letters of Great Men, will they be Googling “One Hundred Ways To Say ‘Love Ya’ With Emoticons?”
There is also the matter of etiquette. If a member of a friend’s family passes, do you shoot them an email? No. You send them a letter of condolence. It’s the polite thing to do. And what if you receive an generous gift from your grandmother who still thinks Apple is just a fruit? You can’t really iMessage her sweet soul, you have to send her a nice note!
A friend recently showed me Handiemail, a website that can write out your emails or type out your letters. So crazy that it just might work? Eh, I think it’s just crazy. Half of the fun of letters is being able get to know someone through their handwriting. You might tell me I’m still hanging on to being 16-years-old, but I definitely still have cards and notes from my high school boyfriend tucked away because of how cute and horrible his handwriting was. Being able to look back on something like that with a smile is not possible if some random machine did it for you.
Even if you aren’t trying to profess your love or say you’re sorry to someone, take ten or twenty minutes sometime this week and write a nice letter. Maybe you want to thank your roommate’s family for hosting you last weekend, or maybe you have a friend at another school who you haven’t had time to call lately. Imagine their surprise if they were to receive a letter, in the mail—the real mail! I can think of few things more thoughtful.