This week staff columnist Nicole Brodeur posted an article for the Seattle Times titled “For the Love of a Letter.” It’s another well-written look at what we as a people are losing as we plunge headlong into allowing technology with its email, Facebook and Twitter, to dictate how we communicate with each other.
“Letter writing,” writes Brodeur, “Is a nice way to slow down, to get away from the keystroke communication we’re used to, the way our thoughts are dispatched almost as quickly as they occur to us.”
“I don’t know anyone,” she says, “who doesn’t love to see their name, written in hand, on the front of an envelope, a bit of humanity among the bills and slick circulars.”
Not only is the handwritten letter a dying art, but, as Brodeur points out, it’s also an endangered species as the U.S. Postal Service closes a number of mail-processing centers and local post offices this year, due to a steady decline in first-class mail. Ten years ago the USPS handled 103 billion pieces of first-class mail, but that number has dropped to 73 billion, and is expected to keep falling.
As Brodeur points out, we’re losing something of ourselves in all that – “the intimacy of a signature, the history that a stack of letters provides.” Especially when you consider the biographies, history books, and movies that have depended on correspondence written by presidents, authors, movie stars and soldiers.
T.K. Watson, owner of two Seattle shops dedicated to “all things paper,” is quoted in Brodeur’s article as saying, “I just think there’s a graciousness and a specialness to it. We’re all so used to email but there is still that tactile quality of the paper and the stamp and the way someone writes, even if it’s just a couple of sentences.”
Brodeur also mentioned William Merrill Decker, author of “Epistolary Practices: Letter Writing in America Before Telecommunications,” who praised the “sensation” of writing, and also the magic of “holding something that has been inscribed.”
“A letter is more than the language someone has written on the page,” says Decker “It’s handwriting and tear smudges, sometimes people doodle. I have letters from my mother – they are among the first things I would grab if my house caught fire.
“A new year has just started,” says Brodeur, “why not put a pen to paper? Not just to help the post office, but to make life a little more personal – no matter the message.”
Handwriting a letter is so easy to do these days, now that the best pen – the scientifically-designed UGLee Pen – is available. This ergonomic pen keeps your hand relaxed, making letter writing a comfortable and, yes, even fun, experience!
You can read Nancy Brodeur’s thought-provoking article in its entirety here.