Snail mail is too easily dismissed. With all of the technology at our fingertips, it is almost unheard of to send or receive letters. Text messages and emails are received much more quickly, but they’re not as personal as the art of a written note. While we’re away at college, letters are a great way to stay connected with people we care about.
Sending a letter may not be the best way to communicate with someone you speak with regularly. Due to the time required for mail to travel, faster means of communication are more convenient for people constantly kept in the loop.
However, the medium of writing letters is still relevant. For those who don’t know everything about your day—from the gum you stepped in that morning to what you had for lunch that afternoon—a letter is a great way to catch up.
Nothing beats the excitement of getting a hand-written letter in the mail. Seeing the name of a loved one written on a crisp, white envelope takes the dullness out of going through the bills, coupons and advertisements one would normally find in their mailbox. Suspense builds while fumbling with the licked-shut seal, curiosity building about the message it contains.
Letters imply a greater personal touch than email. Sure, computers allow senders to use fun fonts, color and emoticons, as well as the ability to attach documents or photos. However, nothing beats the warmth that comes with the unique font of a loved one’s handwriting. Getting a drawing, printed photo or homemade card made by another’s hand is simply more special than the pixels put together on our screen.
Emails are easily lost at the bottom of our inbox, but letters are tangible objects that we can tack onto our corkboard, a constant reminder that someone cares. We might receive over 100 emails over the course of the week. How many letters do we receive?
Letters, a rare treat, are received with more care. The arrival of a letter causes us to slow down and find a comfortable place to sit while absorbing its message. The physicality of the memo provides a cherished keepsake from someone we don’t see often or perhaps isn’t around anymore.
Not only is snail mail still a valuable form of communication, it may be one of the most efficient ways to reach out to a member of an older generation. We are still young, but our grandparents may not have an email, cellphone or Facebook. Living in retirement with an uneventful, repetitive schedule, a surprise letter from a grandchild would put a little pep in their walker-assisted steps.
Skype and phone calls are a great way to catch up, but at times it can be difficult to line up two people’s busy schedules. Letters provide a medium to say more than a text or voice message without the need to coordinate schedules. For students studying abroad, letters provide a great way to communicate without having to harmonize different time zones.
Digital messages can contain the same written message, but the medium of a letter allows the sender to say even more than their words through the efforts they made. The gesture says something in itself.
While it takes more time to send a note by mail, the recipient will be overcome with joy as they open the envelope and allow your words to wash over them. Looking back at letters I have received from relatives, it means a lot to have a handwritten message from family members no longer around and to have shared memories while living in two different locations.
If you would like to send a letter to a loved one, feel free to join me in the Ormsby lounge on Nov. 4 at 9 p.m. There will be paper, writing utensils, envelopes and stamps available. The message sent to your friend or family member may not reach them as fast as a text message or email, but trust me—it will mean a great deal to them.