Writers often say that they do not know what they think until they put pen to paper. Putting pen to paper is a very different experience than typing on a machine. Letter writing is a lost art. Writing a letter is giving a gift of oneself. It’s about sharing; it creates a two-way relationship. Addressee and writer connect and through the power of the written word give each other back to one another. For this reason, in a time of narcissistic monologues in which we do not know how to say “you”, there is little space for letter writing. There was a time when writing letters was our only means of communicating over long distances. In today’s world, we can pick up a phone and speak to anyone anywhere in a second or two. Whether personal or business related, people pick up a phone before they pick up a pen. Over time technology and the need for speed has left the letter a thing of the past. With new forms of communication people don’t seem to realize the how impersonal and sloppy text messaging, email, cards, and the telephone really are. (Affonso) Yes, all of these things are wonderful in one way or another and benefit today greatly, but nothing is savored, thought out, or meaningful. Interacting is an important component of communication.
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Is there something meaningful you need to say? Not only can you buy “Happy Birthday” and “Get Well Soon” cards, these days you can express any sentiment Hallmark style. Today you can go to the grocery store and buy a card to say just about anything. “I Miss You”, and “Sorry we had a disagreement”, “Thinking of you”, and even something as rude as an over the hill cards complete with headstones. Granted, they are nice gestures, but they’re still somebody else’s words. Who really meant what the card has to say, Hallmark or the sender? Am I to be touched by this heartfelt gesture because you passed the aisle with cards on your way to pick up toilet paper? I’m sorry to be dismissive. I know that most people truly feel what the card is trying to convey. I myself sometimes buy cards like these, but I write a note or letter to say it in my own words as well. Cards are just another way to shorthand true feelings and human emtion.
B4, lol, jk, ROLFL, Luv u. Let us not forget the evermore ubiquitous e-mail and Instant Message. Why take the time to write a heartfelt letter when you can sit down, put your thoughts into a few brief sentences often incomplete and twisted with abbreviated language and send it off into the the atmosphere of the internet?
Schools are suffering because of the prevalence of “text speak”. Schools are finding that because of the placement of technology in the classroom it has replaced communication. This is handicapping students communication skills and leaving them unprepared for the real world, real jobs, and real relationships. Without learning to communicate professionally it will be more difficult if not impossible for a student of this generation to know how to correctly send an email to a colleague or boss. (Minster) A level of professionalism must be conveyed to convince employers of your aptitude of speech and communication to maintain or rise in the professional world.
I long to receive a three page, heart-rending, soppy letter, filled with words carefully chosen and eternal. Maybe I’m just a hopelessly romantic dreamer, or just downright old-fashioned. Of all letters, the love-letter should be the most carefully prepared. Among the written missives, they are the most thoroughly read and re-read, and the longest preserved. What I envy most are the grandmothers who can pull out their bundle of letters. Usually tied up with string or kept in a carved wooden box those letters reveal feelings of the past. History gives us knowledge but letters gives feeling and emotion. Some of the most powerful letters written are those of soldiers writing home to their wives and families. “Sarah my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me unresistibly on with all these chains to the battle field.” Those words of the heart could never have brought the same emotion over a text message or sent in a hallmark greeting card (“Lost Art of Letter Writing”).Those final words to his beloved wife are the last he would ever write, and she would keep the carbon copy of his love forever.
The danger of losing this form of communication is that we will become the first generation in history to leave no written record of ourselves. If George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or Ernest Hemingway had only used e-mail, would we have the same record of them that we possess through their letters and journals today? Probably not. We may have the facts downâ€¦the part of history we all fall asleep throughâ€¦but the story would be lost. The feelings and emotions would not exist. John Adams epic letters to his wife Abigail would most likely be erased from time and the hard drive had they not written some of the most famous love letters of all time. Even if they did, it is still not the same as a letter. A letter is a personal thing, even more now because we receive so few of them. They matter because they are personal in an increasingly disconnected world, and because they take time and effort to produce.
Night after night, you log onto your computer and talk with your online date for hours. At first, this is exciting and you wait all day for the time you get to sign onto the Internet. However, after a few
months, it’s not as exciting and you are bored. Having the same type of interactions with someone over time can cause the relationship to end. The best way to keep it alive is to find other ways to make it new and exciting. Try scheduling time to get together or chat on the phone rather than via e-mail or instant messenger. Not everyone can or should fight fires, race cars, paint portraits, or sing karaoke publicly. It’s fine; we’re all different, and as Jane Austen said, “One half of the world cannot understand the pleasure of the other.” Online dating is no different. Maybe all the cool kids are doing it; maybe your friends are urging you to take cursor in hand and dip into the digital dating pool. Relationships take work but Internet ones take even more work. Internet dating means you have to schedule in time for your computer to sit and chat or your new friend will simply pick out a new profile and try again. Internet dating takes more effort because you have to share so much of yourself in a very impersonal way. (Caplan). Not only does it take more effort but it takes a lot of bravery. How do you know that you can trust Mike Dexter, the hunky fireman who volunteers at animal shelters on the weekendâ€¦or so his profile says. For all you know he could be an eighty year old man allergic to dogs. What happened to the organic way of dating? What happened to the boy meets girl and so on and so forth. Now days if we want to impress someone of the opposite gender, its not your hair that needs an updo..its your profile on facebook that needs an update! Internet dating may work for some, but there is nothing personal or romantic about you, your bunny slippers, your PC, and good old Ben and Jerry to keep you company.
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We have done away with hand written letters and notes in the name of time. Because we live in the fast paced twenty first century, millions of people spend their time figuring out a way to get things done faster and more efficiently. Email and text messaging are wonderful advances. They help businesses and companies overseas stay in touch with each other. It ensures aid to countries in need when disaster strikes. It is wonderful for places like ebay and online shopping. Student teacher relationships are easily communicated via email when there is a problem or misunderstanding. However when it comes to matters of the heart, there is something to be said for the letter. It is intimate, it is personal and it communicates more than just a desire to stay in touch.
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