The Lost Art of Letter Writing
Can you believe there was actually a time when waiting on someone’s reply lasted weeks, if not months? And people these days struggle to respond to texts in the same day, blaming it on “being too busy.”
How long would it take if they actually had to sit down at a table with their pen and paper and not only think about everything they’re going to write, but physically write it? People these days would give up on communicating altogether if these were the circumstances.
We take our time for granted.
For centuries, the only means of communicating with people outside our immediate vicinities was by writing letters. And what a beautiful and under-acknowledged art that was — or is (there must be remnants of people writing letters still floating around somewhere).
If you’re talking to the given individual every few weeks, you better get out a few weeks’ worth of information for them to digest until the next letter arrives. And that takes planning. You need to arrange all those words so they tell a story. Get all your thoughts together in a way that’s organized in chronological order — beginning, middle, end. Compare that to a single emoji text message. Pathetic.
If technology was taken away from us today so our only means of communicating was through letters, would we be able to adapt?
Imagine having no cell phones, no landlines, no email, no INTERNET. Nothing but pen, paper and an address book filled out by hand. The only way to know what’s up is by writing it down and asking each person directly.
Where would you even begin?
You need to make plans for the weekend with a few different people and need to know their schedules before you can make yours. You better prepare ahead of time, cause those letters take at least 24-48 hours to get there, plus the same amount of time to return (assuming your other party responds immediately — good luck with that). Time to sit down and write.
First, you’d have to ask them how they are and what’s new (to show you actually still care about them). After that you can fill them in about your own doings (to show you care about them enough to share your own life). Only then can you get down to business and ask what it is you really need: I’d love to see you and catch up in person. How’s the weekend after next?
If something as simple as meeting a friend for a coffee was this complicated, would we even bother with friends anymore? Remember, since the Internet would be gone from our lives, Facebook friends don’t count.
And this example is just a simple “Hi, how are you?” letter. Imagine if you have months’ worth of catching up to do.
For those who say maintaining relationships these days takes work, count your blessings. The people who lived in the days before instant messaging deserve a huge pat on the back.
Going back to simpler days may be a nice change of scenery. Revisit this lost art; write a letter to someone.