Friday, March 18, 2011

Dear Somebody

Nobody writes letters anymore.  Nobody.  Ever.  It's a shame, really, because you can say so much in a letter that you can't say any other way.  I have five correspondents from camp with a rich epistolary tradition.  Now, here are the top five reasons to write letters more often.

  1. Complete emoticon freedom
:)  :(  ;) :D :P @@@@:)  (The last one is Marge Simpson.)  That is about the range of emotions you can cover in a text message or an IM.  On the other hand, I tend to draw doodles on my letters.  If you want to show that you are angry about something in a letter to a friend, you can draw a bull with steam coming out of its nose if you so desire.  Can you do that in a text message?  I think not.
     2.  Getting mail is exciting

Even in the digital age, it's still fun to get mail.  Whether it be a package, a new National Geographic, a birthday card, or a letter, we all look through the mass of mostly junk mail and bills to find something addressed to us.  And with so many "instant" forms of communication around, anticipating a letter is a rare, satisfying form of delayed gratification.

    3.  Confusing postal workers is fun

I love addressing letters to the correct address, but not the correct name of the person who lives there.  My friends and I all have Harry Potter-themed nicknames, and I love imagining the look on the postman's face when he tries to deliver a letter to Remus Lupin.  Do you know what else is fun?  Covering the entire envelope with stamps like the Weasleys did in Harry Potter (and the Goblet of Fire, I think.)

    4.  Physicality

We have not yet figured out how to make transporters.  (So don't beam me up, Scotty.)  Therefore, the only way my friend in Houston can send me a batch of cookies is through the mail.  I usually send little trinkets with my letters, and one of my friends burned me a CD once and sent it to me.  Additionally, letters themselves are delightfully tangible.  I keep all of mine in a folder, and I take them out and look at them from time to time.

    5.  A letter is a precious bond you share with someone metaphorically close to you, but physically far away.

Letters are like a private but slow conversation.  Think about this.  On the phone, others can hear what is said on your end, and IM conversations can be distracted and trivial since we usually surf the web at the same time.  A letter, oppositely, is both private and mindful.  I think if one of my friends died right now, I'd much rather have a letter she wrote to me than a record of her call history.


  1. I respond by giving you a url of a bull with smoke coming out of it made entirely of letters.

    Of course it is so large that it is over the limit for a comment and the idea of texting such a huge piece of text is terrifying, so It is a bit of a failed counter argument.

  2. That's impressive. Still easier to draw one. :)