Writing Letters in the Digital Age

Dear _______________ (go ahead and insert your name in the blank),

How have you been? Great I hope! I’m doing well; I just thought I’d write to tell you what a great time I had on International Talk like a Pirate Day. I got my ears pierced; it cost a buccaneer. Ha!

I also wanted to tell you about how much I enjoy writing personal letters. I know it seems old fashioned and tedious, but I can’t help it. I LOVE writing and receiving hand written letters.

People have long communicated via the written word, from chiseling pictograms on walls to instant messaging, but the idea of putting pen to paper to write a letter has come to be seen as an antiquated concept. Even so, I know very few people who don’t like receiving a handwritten letter. There’s just something special about giving someone a tangible expression of your relationship.

That isn’t to say the sender doesn’t get anything out of it:

Decorating the envelope is a great way to personalize mail

Decorating the envelope is a great way to personalize mail

 The Upside of a Not-so-Instant Message

Writing letters by hand can take more time, but sometimes that’s a good thing. While penning a letter, you can express your thoughts at a leisurely pace without being interrupted in the process. No pop-ups or flashing ads to distract you. No junk emails to annoy you. No rushing to write back before the intended recipient gets off-line. Giving your full attention is simple when the only things you have to contend with are a pen, some paper, and your thoughts.

And just like you can take your time writing, the recipient can take their time reading. If you happen to write a massive missive, there’s no need for the recipient to print anything out or keep their eyes glued to a screen, they can just take it with them to read at their own pace.

Communicate Without Fear of Incorrect Autocorrect

Writing letters by hand is a great way to improve your spelling. Instead of relying on your phone or computer to correct you, get it done the old fashioned way by looking up the words you aren’t sure of yourself. It may take a bit more time, but after a while you’ll be spelling better than ever.auto correct 2 By handwriting your message, you’ll also be saving yourself from distractedly getting incorrectly autocorrected.  My cell phone’s autocorrect feature has led me astray more than a few times: once, while trying to chase after my daughter at the park, I sent a text message encouraging someone to have a “mice” day.

Put the “Pen” in Pen-Pal

In the age of technology, keeping in touch with old friends or acquaintances seems simple right? Between email and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, it seems as though keeping in constant contact has become second nature, but are you really connecting with your friend living abroad? It seems to me that after a while social media becomes less about communicating with specific people and more about sharing tidbits of information to the general populace.

Show your friends you care by sending them a personal letter; I’m sure they’d like to know more about your life than Twitter’s 140 characters can cover. If there’s a language barrier, just try your best, letter writing is a great way to practice your second language vocabulary words. Making an effort rather than putting your whole message through Google’s translate feature will be appreciated. Are you planning on writing while away from your English to (insert language here) dictionary? Do what I do and just doodle a picture that represents the word you can’t quite figure out and add it in your own language in parenthesis; my friends usually get a kick out of my terrible drawing skills and share the correct word that should have been used in their reply.

When you mail someone a handwritten note, whether you send long newsletters or just a few lines penned in a card, you’re sending the recipient a piece of yourself. Even if you think your handwriting is terrible or you write on notebook paper instead of stationary, whoever receives a letter from you will love it no matter what because, chances are, they love you. When an email or a text just won’t cut it, give the postal service some of your business and send snail mail instead.

Do you send handwritten letters when the occasion calls for it, or do you prefer to embrace technological forms of communication?

Can’t wait to read your reply,