The Lost Art of Letter Writing

Stories, be they long, short, sad, or funny, can be sent out into the world in a whole assortment of methods – phone call, text message, e-mail, sky writing, the list goes on and on. But there is something special about putting pen to paper, putting a stamp on an envelope and opening your mailbox, about receiving a hand-written note from a friend. For our grandparents and great-grandparents, this was the only written way to communicate with family and friends around the world. In just a short period of time, technology has rendered the hand-written word an antiquated form of keeping in touch.



In my family, letter writing was part of our everyday. My mother used to include little notes in our lunches. Whether it was on a funky piece of stationary, or a simple note on our banana, we were greeted with words of encouragement, or reminders to eat our fruit, so it would not come home all smushed exhausted from a day in our backpacks. Or a simple, I love you. Have a beautiful day my darling. Although we weren’t quite faced with this being our only form of communication, it was a different way for us to express ourselves. A way that perhaps could not be done in person.

As a child, I went to sleep-away camp. We were sent off for two months every summer to live without computers, phones, money or television. It was mandatory for all campers to write two letters a week to their parents. While friends sighed and grumbled on letter writing day, I couldn’t wait to take out my stationary, and articulate – as best as a nine year old can – all my adventures! Although telling them in person would no doubt have been a more animated and interactive experience for everyone, instead I was given the opportunity to paint a picture in ways that can only be done through writing. I got to tell them about my adventures of water skiing in the chilly lake that turned my fingernails purple, and gave me goose bumps that lasted for hours! And how when the boat started, my hands gripped the hold with utmost desperation. That the water was fiercely attacking my face, so I closed my eyes and just went along for the ride.

Our letter-writing tradition has continued throughout our travels and adventures. However, unlike our great grandparents, we have phones and computers. Technologies most of us have become so attached to, it would be a challenge to live without. But maybe next time you want to let a friend know you’re thinking about them, remember how exciting it is to get mail! Maybe your pen will make its way into your hand, rather than your phone.

By Jody Nozetz
Australia's Student Newspaper, trying to Improve Student Life. We publish articles written by students from across Australia and the world!

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