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“Dear Sir or Madam, in reference to your letter of February 1st” ... this was the way hand written letters used to start. I was sixteen years old and my dad was asking me to send a letter to the company where I would have my internship.
My dad taught me how to write a letter in the correct format and how to position the outgoing address. He said: “You should put the date in the top right-hand corner of the page. The signature should be also formal and the closing line should read ‘Yours Faithfully'”. The Human Resources department at the company where I interned paid a fortune for the privilege of having an intern who could string a sentence together in legible, neat and hand written German. This company would go as far as canceling an internship or sending the intern to additional classes.
There are many critics that say old fashioned mail is not fast enough and is more expensive. The old fashioned mail requires buying letters and paying for stamps. Email, on the other hand, is free. Most people forget about internet and computer costs. German companies don't have these problems, because every company in Germany has a contract with the post office. They pay a certain amount of money every month and can send as many letters as they wish.
Email will be received at the location to which it is sent much faster than regular mail; however, both email and mail use addresses to which someone can send a letter or a message.
Every other day I receive an email from my step mom in Germany. It keeps us in touch and in more constant communication than a letter could, because the I can receive her message almost immediately.
In emails and letters a person writes thoughts down and sends it to another person. Both are used to communicate with another person; however, email in these days is a modern mode of communication. In fact, email makes the modern business world more efficient. I mostly receive only emails these days (and lots of them!). When I am on vacation for a couple days and come back to work, I am guaranteed to find more than a hundred emails. All these emails, excluding spam emails, need my response and attention. Subjects who were not on the agenda before can overnight take on the highest priority and the communication about it can go half way across the world. (Kleiner)
These days, when I open my mail box, I am lucky to find anything other than bills and junk mail. Unfortunately these are the only regularly visitors inside my letter box. People do not consider old fashioned letter writing an effective form of communication.
When a person takes the time to write a letter, they have mostly thought their comments through which makes it to my mind a more sincere mode of communication. If the same thought process and formal way of writing would be associated with traditional letter writing when one writes an email, it would not be as impersonal. People just lose the formal style writing an email. I received the following email from a co-worker the other day:
“If we already have door made the old way / we don't have any in stock, make old door, if you can. Replace it with the new one and may add a note. The note in the attachment to make it clear.”
This was the complete email and I was confused. This email, as are many others, is just not enough. It requires additional personal communication. Although most of the emails I receive are in a better writing style, almost none of them are formal. Emails suffice for most business purposes and mostly daily exchanges. They can also be very fast and practical. (Wilson)
So, which is better: emails or old fashioned letter writing?
I believe that that letter writing itself is an art form. A person's mood and personality can be sensed, just by examining how the tails of individual letters are swept or how hard the writer pressed upon the paper. In an email, this is not possible. It is obvious that old fashioned letter writing is very time consuming and therefore one can understand the need for faster communication in this busy world. Email is a more effective form of communication.
Perhaps I am old fashioned; however, I do enjoy receiving hand written letters, even though the amount of old fashioned mail is almost zero, barring birthday letters and Christmas cards. A letter is handwritten; a person touched the paper and thought about another person. It is much more personal than an email could ever be and the old fashion letter has a value that cannot be replaced. (Wilson)
Kleiner, Kurt. "Email and Letter Writing Share Fundamental Pattern." NewScientist. N.p., 26 Oct. 2005. Web. 15 Feb. 2010. <http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn8214>.
Wilson, Carole. "The Difference Between an Ordinary Letter and an E-mail." Helium. N.p., 2002-2010. Web. 16 Feb. 2010. <http://www.helium.com/items/395931-the-difference-between-an-ordinary-letter-and-an-e-mail>.