I keep a list of things that are going away that I wish were not. High on that list is a seemingly antiquated method of communication: the handwritten letter.
Admittedly a letter seems like a novelty in the emoticon age. I can see the letter writer in a carnival booth someday, wedged between the fortune teller and the strong man.
Technology is an awesome and powerful reality. We are more connected than ever. As promised, the world has indeed become smaller. However, the on-demand nature of text and social media often does little to convey the sender’s true emotions. I cannot imagine that Napoleon’s words to Josephine that her kisses “set his blood on fire” 1 would have had the same effect if they ended in LOL.
Recently, on a South American adventure, I took some time to send a few long letters home. I did this because postcards were too short and email felt as if I had never left. When I finished one three-page missive fueled by Patagonian loneliness and Chilean wine I felt something strange: human.
If you don’t find yourself on the edge of the world with paper and pen anytime soon, here are five other occasions to take back analog and write a letter to someone who matters to you.
1. Thank you.
Thank you cards are awesome. You’ve had a great party, received some great gifts and dropped a handful of thank you cards in the mail. Congratulations, you’re above the curve. Now take it up a notch and write a letter. Tell them why you’re grateful and how you’ll pass it on.
2. To the little ones.
What kid doesn’t love mail? It’s personalized and just for them and it’s unexpected. The best thing about writing to a kid is that it doesn’t matter what you write. Say anything. Be silly. Draw a map of the places you’ve been. Ask them to draw you one too. You’re gaining instant immortality here. Your words will likely end up in one of those boxes where they keep the good stuff and you shall not be forgotten.
Facebook birthdays are awesome. But to be the 265 th person to post cheers on a dear friend’s wall is nice but not exactly special. Send a high school friend a short letter about the trouble you two found way back when.
4. Lost friends.
Can’t seem to connect with a friend you’ve fallen out of rhythm with? Try a letter. You don’t have to try and solve whatever may have come between you or make excuses for falling out of touch – just start the conversation.
5. Love (or lust).
Mi amor, mi corazon (my love, my heart). Need I say more?