Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

When’s The Last Time You Wrote A Letter?


Some may suppose, these days, that even writing a note by hand is a rare event.

Somehow, I doubt it

Like many things we read in the paper on the ‘Net, there may be more handwritten letters and notes being sent than noticed, just like there are more peaceful and loving acts occurring than most of us notice

And, for those who think there’s a vast difference between handwritten and typed letters; is there, really?

I suppose many folks could feel differently when wielding a pen than when striking keys; but, does everyone? Can’t just as much emotion leak through keyed-in words?

I usually use other’s posts or articles as my jumping off point for my own posts (except on Fridays) and I’ll link to the one that got me thinking today; but, I’m not going to encourage you to go read it or to read the book it’s reviewing

The article has its charm and the book may be very worth reading but I think both could be over-stretching their points.

The article, from The Washington Post, is Book review: ‘To the Letter: A Celebration of the Lost Art of Letter Writing’ by Simon Garfield and you can find a link to the book in the article.

One hugely over-stretched statement in the article, imho, is:

“In 1919, the Yale Review lamented that ‘the art of writing letters has been lost’, with blame cast on the telephone, the typewriter, the telegraph, even the train — for delivering letters too promptly.”

Is the speed of delivery somehow capable of demeaning the meaning of a letter?

Can a telephone call be automatically less personal and emotive than a written note?

If a typewriter (or, computer) can render the thoughts and feelings of an author that then move a reader to great depths of feeling and action, why should typewriters (or, computers) be disgraced?

Perhaps we can blame the telegraph for its need for interpreters of its dotty-dashy signals—are they really telling us what the sender desired?

And, while you may find value in reading that article or book, I need to comment on another excerpt:

“Garfield is smart to celebrate letter-writing rather than lament its decline. He can tell that preaching against e-mail won’t inspire anyone to choose the post office over pixels. But tugging at our heartstrings just might.”

Why in the world is it somehow deemed as impossible for an e-mail to be inherently incapable of conveying what a handwritten letter does?

I know that the eye/hand connection is critical for transmitting what the brain has distilled from our thoughts and feelings; but, humans have more than proven their adaptability and flexibility—must we physically shape letters like I, l, o, v, e, y, o, and u to let someone know how we feel?

One very personal example:

My Best Friend and I communicate nearly everyday, though she lives in Australia and I live in the U.S.A.

She’s usually going to sleep when I’m waking up.

Today, I was up a bit earlier and, as I prepared for this post, she began a Google Hangout message.

Our conversation lasted all of five minutes; but, I’m going to be able to face my day with more vim and vigor because she was personally-present in my morning.

Two widely-separated countries, two computers, two human beings, a handful of words———a brighter day

Anyone care to comment??
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3 responses to “When’s The Last Time You Wrote A Letter?

  1. Selena December 16, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Well said, Alexander. I don’t write too much by hand anymore, but I couldn’t answer my daughter’s question (the one that lives 4 states away from me) about making fudge, while she is stirring on the stove if we didn’t have email and text.

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai December 16, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      Very Good point, Selena :-) — Happy Holidays

      Like

      • Selena December 17, 2013 at 8:42 pm

        And to you!

        Like

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