You’ve Got Mail (Or Do You?)

I’m currently reading a book of correspondence and find myself marveling often that the author of the letters was able to keep up with such a vast lot of people by writing letters in addition to his full time job and professional writing commitments.

In some sense the advent of email greatly increased our efficiency and ability to keep in touch with others, and yet I think in some ways electronic media tend to rob our communication of some of the reflective and personal qualities found in written letters.

When I was young and letter writing was still the norm (we also walked to school barefoot, uphill both ways) I wrote countless missives to my relations, mostly when I was away at summer camp and forced to take a daily “Rest Hour”. I’m sure my relatives groaned whenever they saw an overstuffed envelope bearing my childish script in their mailboxes, but writing letters helped me to remember what I was learning and the tangible messages I received in return helped me feel connected to my family when I was gone for a few weeks.

These days I only correspond with my grandmother by letter. Sometimes I think it would be easier if she were online and could just read my blog, but more often I value the opportunity to pull out my stationery and take the time to write a personal letter. Using a pen and paper forces the writer to give more careful thought and consideration than do electronic media.

Obviously email is not going away any time soon, but I wonder what sorts of correspondence our generation will publish, if any? Will our grandchildren read books of our emails back and forth to one another, full of parenthetical phrases in superabundance and littered with internettish abbreviations like LOL and LMK, and dotted with punctuation marks arranged to look like faces? Somehow, I think not.

Do you get real mail anymore? If you write letters, to whom do you write and for what reason?

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