Letter Writing Fading to Black

letterwriterWhen did you last write someone a real letter?

This is what my nephew, Zack, asked me last week. One of his friends said she would really love to get a letter in the mail. So Zack wrote her a letter and sent it to her through the mail. It will be a very nice surprise for her one day this week.

I used to write letters to my older relatives, the Grandmothers and their sisters (my Great-Aunts). The last of them have been gone for years and it’s been about that long ago that I wrote a letter. Unless letters sent with Christmas cards count, I haven’t written a letter just for the sake of writing a letter in seven years I’m guessing. Kind of sad.

I know my nephew and nieces would love to have a letter arrive in the mail, kids always do. But I probably won’t write one. Email is so much easier, takes less time and doesn’t require postage or stationery.

The loss of letter writing is something we shouldn’t take too lightly. If you think about it, when was the last time you wrote anything by hand? A list doesn’t count. I wonder if someday penmanship, cursive writing and just plain handwriting will become something no longer taught in schools, no longer thought of as mainstream or of much importance at all. We type things far more than we write them out in long hand. This is good for some things, it is more accurate, less likely to be misread. It’s faster too.

People talk about print becoming something in the past. But, I take it a step in another direction and I can see handwriting becoming a lost art, a forgotten skill.

By the way… do you know which is which between stationary and stationery? Stationery, with an E, is the one for letters and envelopes which tend to come in pretty patterns in a pretty pattern box. Just think of the E which is also in letters and envelopes. Stationary with an A is about staying still.

I like this quote from The Art of Manliness, about letter writing:

The writing and reception of letters will always offer an experience that modern technology cannot touch. Twitter is effective for broadcasting what you’re eating for lunch, and email is fantastic for quick exchanges on the most pertinent pieces of information. But when it comes to sharing one’s true thoughts, sincere sympathies, ardent love, and deepest gratitude, words traveling along an invisible superhighway will never suffice. Why? Because sending a letter is the next best thing to showing up personally at someone’s door.

Extra Resources:

365 Letters – A blog about letter writing, mail art and postcards. Carla says: I’m a writer who has taken on the ambitious project of writing a letter every day in 2009 as a way to keep in touch with all of my friends and family.

Letter Writers Alliance – An organization dedicated to keeping the art of letter writing alive. World wide membership.

The Modern Letter Project – “It is our hope that, at end of the year each participant in the project will have a network of new pen pals, friends, and a collection of letters to treasure, and as a group, the art of letter-writing will explore new intersections between letter-writing with art and technology.”

Flickr: The Art of Letter Writing

Flickr: Letter Lovers

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