Letter writing: A memento from a time long gone

My recent article on the I-phone got me thinking more about the things technology had changed. I am still pretty young- I was a mere toddler when the cold war ended- but I do remember a time before the internet when things were a lot different. I am thinking here specifically of the art of letter writing.

My recent article on the I-phone got me thinking more about the things technology had changed.

I am still pretty young- I was a mere toddler when the cold war ended- but I do remember a time before the internet when things were a lot different.

I am thinking here specifically of the art of letter writing.

‘Art’ may be a strong way of putting it of course. As anyone who has ever written a disjointed love letter in high school can attest, writing a letter was not always a glamorous thing-sometimes it was merely an act of desperation. However it seems unbelievable that writing letters already seems as ancient as witch trials and the bubonic plague.

These days if you want to tell someone something you could send a text message or write to them on Facebook or even send them an email.

We are pretty much covered as far as communication goes- a veritable pixel nirvana. You could fire off a message in dozens of mediums and get it to the recipients in mere seconds.

All you need is a decent internet connection or credit in your phone and you are good to go. It is almost frighteningly simple even for those of the older generation who are somewhat technologically challenged.

But it seems to me that with the largely positive effects brought to us by communication technology, some simple pleasures have been lost. One of them is writing letters.

There was a charm and authenticity to writing letters that simply cannot be replicated in other media. For starters there was the sheer graft of it- writing a letter took time and effort; there were no two ways about it.

As such, it was a more sincere and accurate depiction of your desire to communicate with someone else.

Granted it was slow, inconvenient and not exactly efficient but that was just part of the experience. And unlike digital communication today, you had to engage your brain first before you expressed yourself which I think improved your eloquence on the page.

The delete button is our friend today, but back then unless you wanted to keep tearing up paper and starting again, you certainly wanted to get it right first time.

And it was certainly fun- I have a lot of fond memories of writing letters to my friends while growing up. There were certain features of this that are cringe-inducing when one looks back (dedicating songs at the end of each letter) but overall it was a worthwhile activity.

It was a product of your sweat and toil and an expression of a more innocent age. It was not just the writing that was exciting- receiving a letter was an equally joyous event.

But now-aside from official correspondence- we don’t write letters anymore and it seems to me that a lot has been lost.

Nostalgia is not always an accurate barometer of necessity, but I miss the joy of having to express myself on paper with ink-stained hands as solid and an aching wrist as solid proof of your toil.

We don’t even know what people’s handwriting looks like now unless it’s the scrawl of your doctor. Someone’s handwriting was always an interesting insight into their personality or at the very least, something that set them apart. 

Today it is pixels that represent us. Don’t get me wrong- I love this digital age we are in and I am grateful to be in a position to enjoy it. Still every now and then I cant help but reflect on some of the things we lost.

Minega Isibo is a lawyer

minega@trustchambers.com

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