The dying art of handwritten letters

The decline of meaningful communication


Photo by Emily Haynes

Expressing your thoughts and feelings, in a literal and figurative way, on paper and giving it to someone is not the same as sending a text message.

Emily Haynes, Staff Writer

Approximately 2500 years ago, the first hand written letter was sent by Persian Queen Atossa, and for centuries, this method was the only option of getting in touch with people across the world, or even across town. Letters were sentimental items, as writers would take their time in choosing what to say. Where did all of this go? Why has this modern era turned to short handed text messages that only exist on a screen?

As society moves and changes, so does its habits. Birthday wishes are now sent over the phone, thank you notes are quickly typed out just to be copy-and-pasted, apologies are sent without thinking. Many people in today’s world prefer to not have to think twice about sending something, and will instead spend only a few moments contemplating the composition of a message. Writing a letter by hand may ultimately require more thought and effort than typing on a phone, but that’s what I find to make letters different.

Expressing your thoughts and feelings, in a literal and figurative way, on paper and giving it to someone is not the same as sending a text message.

Every word written down in a letter counts, as whoever it is being sent to will interpret it in their own way. Yes, this also means that when writing a letter, you must think about what words you will choose, what words you won’t. With texting, or talking in person, if the person who you are speaking to interpreters what you say the wrong way, or something comes out wrong, you can quickly correct yourself. Writing is not the same, and though that may come across as frightening, this is what makes the practice special. You may be asking yourself, ‘Why would you want to take the chance of saying something you won’t easily be able to take back?’ Although this is the art of letter writing. It requires you to take the receiver’s emotions and feelings into account, something that is often forgotten when sending a text message. The writer expresses what is truly on their mind, not a collection of several texts that are trying to make the writer look better.

People seldom write letters now, perhaps because they believe it will take too much time out of their “busy” schedules, or because they may not see the point in it. Think about how you feel when you receive a birthday wish via text, and compare it to those you get experience when receiving a personalized birthday card or handwritten note. Letters give a specific feeling, unlike what you find in digital message. Allow someone to experience those reactions, take some time out of your day and write a letter. I promise it’s not as intimidating as it may seem.