I appreciate having a computer. Without it I never would have written a novel. And e-gadgets bring distant family members close when we share photos, skype and text.
Electronic communication does not need envelopes, stamps or mail boxes. E-mails, e-cards, and texts are easy to store, easy to trash, easy to read, quick to type, quick to send and receive, easy to correct or change, and inexpensive. There are choices of fonts, emotions and colors. The minute a person comes to mind, I can pop a letter to her and with one click she receives it thousands of miles away. I love that I can stay close to family and friends around the world. Quick is good.
Who cares that every email looks pretty much the same – stark and impersonal? Isn’t it the thought that counts?
For all its advantages, do we sometimes relinquish something precious by our use of e-communication? Could it be we forgo “that special touch?”
Keeping In Touch
“Keeping in touch” means “maintaining communication with someone.” That definition seems more impersonal than the idiom implies. Have letters become merely functional – to be read and disposed of rather than treasured? Touch involves physical contact. It is personal. Letter writing (as in paper & the postal service) takes time, care and touch.
Letter writing used to require paper and pen or pencil. The writer needed to choose the most appropriate paper, perhaps one with letterhead, or bordered with flowers, a vellum, fragranced sheet, or note card. Or decorated with something to add “a special touch.”
The writer attended to her best handwriting. More on this vanishing “art” in my next post.
The writer gave thought to the right words without edit, thesaurus, spell or grammar check or the ability to correct. It took time.
Finally, the writer addressed and licked the envelope (or sealed it with wax) and affixed a stamp. She sent the missive by messenger or mail service, then waited and waited for a reply.
Imagine how a young woman might have felt when she was handed a letter and her eyes fell upon the familiar handwriting of the one she loved. Personal notes and letters used to be cherished, to be read and re-read, stained with tears. Or blood. Or coffee. Bundles of yellowed love letters found in old trunks still spark our imagination and evoke emotion.
Recently I found the cards sent to my parents celebrating my birth because my mother pasted them in a scrapbook. Why did she do that? And why do I keep them?
There is something special about touching a letter that has been written by a loved one or someone from the distant past. What does “keeping in touch” mean to you?
I will continue to use a computer and welcome e-cards and letters, but I will cherish the handwritten notes. One day I will bring the special ones I’ve saved out of storage and remember when it was more than the thought that mattered.