[Wayback Repost] Why do letters seem more daunting than email?

February 2, 2016 in Journal

This post was originally published in January of 2012. It’s reappearing today as a Wayback Repost, so you might see some old comments below. Feel free to continue the conversation!

image source unknownOne of the things that I’ve found interesting in the response to the Month of Letters Challenge is the notion that mailing something everyday is too much. The idea that writing a letter, postcard, addressing socks… what have you, is somehow more difficult than other forms of communication.

How many tweets, status updates, and emails do you send in a day? I’ll grant that you do not need to look up an address for those. You do not need to  scrounge for paper, put a stamp on a page, or walk to the mail box. I grant that it is easier to click “Send” than any of those.

I suspect, however, that the physical is the smaller of the difficulties. Because the only personal things that come in the mail now are Things of Import, like wedding invitations or birth announcements, we’ve attached an unconscious weight to mail. If one is going to send a letter, then it seems like it should be something significant.

Not really.

I mean, that’s nice and all, but the significance is the connection and the fact that it is tangible proof that you thought about someone specific. Where a tweet expresses my thoughts about me, a postcard is for someone else.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a heavy social media user and I love twitter. This Month of Letters Challenge is not about dissing anything modern. It is about finding out what the archaic medium of postal mail is good for. Much the same way photography did not replace painting, but taught us what painting was uniquely good at, postal mail is good for something different than electronic communication.

Do you still feel daunted?

Then, let me put this into perspective for you.

  • A postcard is a slow tweet or status update.
  • A letter is a delayed blog post or an email.

It’s just that it is for an audience of one.

1 response to [Wayback Repost] Why do letters seem more daunting than email?

  1. Having been a letter writer for several years now, I don’t particularly find this challenge all that difficult, other than remembering to do it every day instead of when the whim takes me to write. And since I may not have a penpal’s letter to answer, then I need to think outside my normal circle of penpals and write to others. I saw this as an opportunity to reconnect with a few old penpals that had lapsed, family members that live outside of the city, friends I haven’t seen in a while, and strangers or persons of stature. I think it’s a great challenge and maybe it will even boost the joy of those who process all this mail and deliver it to us. 🙂

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