Saturday, July 19, 2014

Changing times - from handwritten letters to emails to.... nothing

Writing letters with pen and paper - a dying art?
Do you remember a time when you still received handwritten letters in your mailbox (no, not your virtual mailbox, but the physical mailbox in front of your house)?
If you are like me, then you might have had quite a few pen pals when you were younger. I started writing letters at the age of 9 or 10, and the older I got, the more pen pals I had, also quite internationally.

After I came home from school, I always checked whether there were any letters on the table, and on a Saturday or during school holidays, I always went to the mailbox right away after the mail man (or woman) was there. Receiving a letter, opening it, reading it - it was quite special to me. After all it meant that someone somewhere else on this planet has taken the time to sit down and write to me. It was not only a letter but also a gift of time - something you can never get back.

But then the internet became more easily available for the general public, and emails were the newest trend. I have to admit that I did like the internet, too, I even had my own homepage dedicated to one of my hobbies (today people would think that type of homepage quite primitive and too simple). Yet I never wanted to give up writing letters. So it dismayed me when some of my pen pals decided they would rather write emails instead of letters.
I did not want to lose any of my distant friends, so I agreed to their request. Fortunately most of my international pen pals still preferred proper letters, and my best pen pal (from Japan) still continued writing lovely, long letters.

After some time, I did not have many proper pen pals left. The emails became less and less (probably because it wasn't that exciting any more). And once my best pen pal left university and started work, she had no more time for letters.
While I was still living in New Zealand, I tried to find some new pen pals - with the help of the internet. Unfortunately, none of them turned out to be anywhere as loyal as my Japanese pen pal (we wrote letters to each other for almost ten years, and are at least still in touch via Facebook).

Is writing letters with pen and paper something that is hardly ever happening any more? Is it because people do not have the time, or because they do not want to make the time?
When was the last time you have handwritten a letter, and received a reply to it?

Sometimes I write letters to people I know - for a variety of reasons. Sometimes as a thank you note, sometimes as a way to keep in touch (or trying to). So far, the feedback has been rather disappointing. Sometimes the letters don't even get acknowledged.
Is it not also a sign that we care less about other people these days?

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