Sometimes, I think I am, at heart, something of an elderly lady. Since leaving my teenage years behind, I continually find myself saying things like “when I was young..” and “it wouldn’t have happened in my day” or even the classic “kids these days…”. I’m 22 years old, which makes this habit all the more alarming. One particular topic that perplexes me and makes me think back to a simpler time is technology and our current use of social media and the internet to communicate with each other. Of course, I grew up with social media, springing from MSN Messenger to Myspace to Facebook. While I’m yet to make the jump to Twitter, I actively enjoy using Facebook to keep in touch with old and new friends – a task which would be made much more difficult if I couldn’t reach them with the click of a button. As for emails, I receive and send them almost every day and again I enjoy the simplicity and on-the-go nature of being able to keep track of my online correspondence. Still, the other day, my inner elderly lady found herself thinking….”why does no one send handwritten letters anymore?”.
When my friends and I found ourselves leaving home for university, we ended up in various locations spread across the country – and even the world. Something that no one ever told me about my university years was how hard it would be to keep in touch with old friends and to preserve the friendship we were used to when growing up together. Sure, we all make plans to have the odd Skype session and with a quick look on Facebook I can check up on how everyone is. But I question how great a means of communication this is, especially when compared to a traditional letter sent by post.
When you receive a handwritten letter, you know that someone sat down and took time to write it. It isn’t the result of a quick type of buttons and a few emoticons but a thoughtful and time consuming piece meant solely for you. Letters are full of intricate details of the author, from their handwriting, their doodles, written expression to how they sign their name. A letter is also a great format to convey how you really feel and to explain in detail what is really going on in your life. These days everyone communicates via social media and text and we prefer the convenience of instant response over substance and taking the time to sit and think about what we want to say and to appreciate the privacy of an unshared conversation. Sometimes it seems we share images online and tailor our social media to portray a certain image to our masses of friends and followers instead of being honest and letting our closest friends know how we really are and what’s actually happening in our lives. Since when did something as simple as writing down our thoughts and corresponding with our friends without the chaos of the online world become so outdated?
So, next time you’re thinking of dropping your faraway mates a line, why not reach for the pen and paper rather than typing at your keyboard? No, you won’t get an instant response, a posed selfie or any fun abbreviations (LOLLLL) but it will be a lovely surprise for them and will give you a good opportunity to let them know that you’re thinking of them. And who knows, if you’re lucky, you may even get a response! For no matter how much of an 86 year-old woman I may sound, I know I’ll be writing old fashioned handwritten letters for all the years to come.