The Lost Art of Long Letters

Sarah: Heeeey!

Joe: ‘sup?

Sarah: Whacha doing tonight?

Joe: Mmm… not much. You?

Sarah: Not much…


This seems like a normal conversation these days. We just pop online and start typing out the most basic words and sometimes having the most pointless conversation that end right where the above example does. But, whatever happened to those letters that spanned pages. Those were conversations too. They just had long breaks in-between (kind of like intermissions in a play) and were thought out more.

I’m not trying to say that I’m anti-online-chat. I love chatting online, but I think we need to take a break (an intermission) and give letters another chance.

Back when there was only “snail mail” (Come on, you used to love the Pony Express! Snail Express? I don’t think so…) people would wait days, weeks, perhaps even months to hear from someone. But, because they knew it would take so long, they’d pack as much information as they could into those letters, at times taking hours to write them.

Introduce the internet and it’s fancy email and we start sending letters faster and soon after, not only faster, but shorter. We can send information so fast, why both spending hours on a single letter? Write separates ones as things come up! And, not that this is wrong or bad in any sense, but, don’t you kind of miss the idea of a well thought out letter?

A letter is more than just updating someone (like a Facebook or Twitter status). A letter shows that you care enough to spend time, not just talking, but thinking about someone. Try writing a letter to your friend without thinking about them. As you write, you’ll think of more things to tell them about and questions to ask them (beyond the usual: how are you these days?).

Consider this the next time you hop online to chat people. Do you really need their instant response? Or would a longer wait and an investment of your own time be more beneficial? I’m not saying cut off chatting completely. There are times for it, but don’t rely on it as your only way of communicating.

Go. Find a friend, a relative, someone you know and care about. Write them a letter or a long email. It doesn’t matter the format, just take the time to update them and ask for an update in return. I’m going to go do that same thing. Right now.

~ by R.S.Sharkey on December 9, 2011.

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