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Letter Writing In The Age Of Technology

Letter Writing In The Age Of Technology

Communication has taken on a new era with computers, smart phones, texting, and email. When was the last time you actually wrote, or received a personal letter? Other than a few thank you notes here and there, I can’t remember.

When I was young, I went to sleep-away camp. Shopping for the perfect stationery and pen to tuck into my camp trunk was a treat. We had a designated letter/journal writing time after lunch. When in the bunk lights went out, the flashlights would glow, and the girls would write letters to their family and friends. At the end of the summer, we exchanged addresses and became pen pals.

This New York Times article, The Fading Art of Letter Writing sums it up the feelings:

“A good handwritten letter is a creative act, and not just because it is a visual and tactile pleasure. It is a deliberate act of exposure, a form of vulnerability, because handwriting opens a window on the soul in a way that cyber communication can never do. You savor their arrival and later take care to place them in a box for safe keeping.”

Technology Takes Over

The average teenager sends 3,339 texts per month! Check out the rest of the eye-popping statistics in this CNN article.

I know, I know, blame the latest technology. I am a lover of technology – the amount of time I spend on the computer is massive. But, maybe that’s why I’m longing for a different tactile communicative experience – one that involves puts pen to paper.

3 Ways to Inspire Letter Writing (with the help of technology):

1. Letterheady is an online homage to offline correspondence; specifically letters. The focus of Letterheady is design. They recently reached 10,000 followers and the site is delightful to explore.

2. Letters of Note Letters of Note gathers and sorts fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos.

3. Design*Sponge’s DIY Feather Pen Pal Stationery Kit

Do you still write letters? What happened to the finely tuned art of writing a letter? As handwritten notes and stationery take a nose-dive, should personalized letters be ditched in the face of all the new technology? In the digital age, can we rekindle that flame? What will be the legacy of letter writing in a digital age?

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Ronnie Citron-Fink

Ronnie Citron-Fink is a writer, editor and educator. She has written hundreds of articles about sustainable living, the environment, design, and family life for websites, books and magazines. Ronnie is the creator of Econesting, and the managing editor of Moms Clean Air Force. Ronnie was named one of the Top Ten Living Green Experts by Yahoo. Ronnie lives in New York with her family.

61 comments

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3:01AM PDT on Apr 15, 2014

Fascinating information I haven’t been experienced such information in quite a long time.
7L Networks

3:38AM PST on Dec 5, 2012

I still write but very few members of my family and/or friends still do it at all! For kids, send them off with pre-addressed, prestamped postcards and maybe they'll send them! Thanks for article!

6:01AM PST on Dec 1, 2012

I wanted to send actual letters to my online pen pal but I was scared that they might be 'fake' or something.

3:58AM PST on Nov 14, 2012

When we mailed my parents in law a handwritten letter, they complimented us on how it is rare to receive one due to the technological age.

Do what is "rare" and you'll stand out.

4:53PM PDT on Aug 17, 2012

I write letters because I adore stationary and need excuses to use it, but every time I send off a note I feel a little silly because I know I could have gotten them the message much quicker through an email, and it might even be out of date by the time it's received... Right now I have 3 post cards waiting to be sent and I can't find my stamps!

11:15AM PDT on Jun 29, 2012

I still write letters and send post cards and love to receive letters in return,I write more than I receive these days as I often get e-mail replies to them.Hand written letters are much more intimate and you do feel some one has set aside time just for you. You can also carry letters around with you and reread them as often as you like easily Thanks for the article

3:34PM PDT on May 2, 2012

even emailing is becoming obsolete already!

11:38AM PST on Jan 16, 2012

This system in itself demonstrates the space limitation a little; wish they would add a character count script to this message system.
I'm far more comfortable choosing a font for a digitally editted letter, printing it and signing, then mailing that off (in a hand lettered envelope, because feeding envelopes through a printer is a chore unless you send a lot of them) vice taking too much time trying to make a letter make sense by hand. I guess it's the spirit of the age... and using spellcheck is fine but can we please also learn a little basic grammar if we're making more than colloquial messages?!?!

11:32AM PST on Jan 16, 2012

I guess I'm one of those who prefers email - prepaid via the ISP - to having to stick nearly half-dollar stamps on envelopes containing either tediously hand-printed or illegibly hand scripted letters. I prefer properly (Oxford, Webster, and/or Sydney are fine) spelled eMails; I tolerate unambiguously spelled ones, and detest those with gross and ambiguous spellings. While I can understand using 'abbreviated' spellings in messages on networks where length of message is severely limitted (like Q code on ham or 10 code on CB and police radio, the odd codes on Twatter let the communicants cram more drivel per post), I detest seeing it in messages where no such limits apply. Would it kill to spell 'you' vice 'u', 'great' vice 'gr8', or otherwise spell decently when space isn't at a premium?

As well, I sometimes like to edit my messages, and ink on paper isn't conducive to that. An eMail message is edittable bytes on a drive, unless I convert it to a printed letter after all my creation and editting, then hand sign it and envelope it to send for the excessive current postage rates via a slow and often erratic carrier system deteriorated from the once proud US Postal Service.

Like many people even in the 60s and 70s, I never developed a legible 'cursive' or 'connected' hand, only using a signature from that. I prefer to block print if I write by hand, it's legible, and never really got the hang of fast reading of cursive either, reading 'connected' script is a chore. I'm much

4:05AM PST on Nov 9, 2011

I started pen palling at 11 years old, and now I have about 50 pals from all the world. I think it's a marvellous way to know other people. If all people could write to one far friend, knowing his life style, different from own, maybe world would be more peacefull. If you know someone different, you don't hate him.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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