In Defense of Letter Writing

By Emma Boczek

The most tragic casualty of the rise of the digital age is, without question, written correspondence. I don’t mean emailing, that oh-so-handy virtual mailbox. I mean snail mail, or slip-into-the-locker letters; something that requires giving someone your full attention in their absence.

The convenience of emailing, texting and Facebook messaging far outshines that of letter writing – information is shot out into cyberspace at the press of a button, whether or not we regret it. So, why write letters? It’s more meaningful, more personal, and more fun than most of our day-to-day virtual means of communication. We are no longer limited by certain ever-present quandaries: to capitalize or not to capitalize? To “you” or to “u”? In a letter, we can say what we really want to say. Even if the message is essentially the same as what you would be sending online, the steps involved – writing by hand, addressing, stamping, sending – unavoidably increase the effort put into the process.

The Internet promises hyper-connectivity: with friends, with favorite celebrities, and with the rest of the world. “Sitting by the pool eating chicken noodle soup with chop sticks. #g2dothedishes,” Miley Cyrus tweeted recently. “Like my status and I’ll let you pick my next status,” cry the preteens of Facebook. “Vote for your favorite fashion trend: colored vs. patterned jeans,” shouts Yahoo!’s omg! in urgent all caps. This level of connection, which may be gratifying in the short term, is superficial and fairly meaningless from a broader perspective.

This is not to say that technological forms of communication, some of which are immensely useful, should be altogether dismissed. All I ask is that they be reconsidered – when the time is right, or when the WiFi is down. So next time you take out your smartphone or hover over the “poke” button, try picking up a pen.