Texts, Instagrams, Tweets and Likes – contemporary life is awash with instant communication, closely aligned with the current trend for instant gratification. Digital communication is here to stay and it’s not all bad. How many estranged families and friends stay together through regular WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook interaction? And these brief messages are undoubtedly a source of joy and solace to those on the receiving end.
However, handwritten letters are different. They are tactile and they appeal to our senses through sight, sound, smell and touch. There’s no spellcheck, so writing a letter demands concentration throughout a slow, orderly process.
Writing letters is good for the recipient. Taking the time to write and send a letter evokes feelings far beyond those of a simple text or meme. It says “You’re important to me. I care very much about you”. This very personal sentiment is surely one of the most sought-after emotions in our time-poor modern world.
Committing our thoughts to paper is also good for the soul. The slow, deliberate process promotes focus on the now to the exclusion of regrets from the past and fears for the future, a true exercise in mindfulness. Handwriting necessitates removing ourselves from the technology that is pervasive in almost every area of our lives. In addition, writing about our problems and traumas assists the healing process as we are forced to break our issues into more manageable chunks thereby making the challenges less daunting.
Far from being dead, letter-writing remains a core tool of our inter-personal communications. It is a portal to the past that connects us with ancient feelings of connectedness and self-worth.
“Handwriting is a spiritual designing, even though it appears by means of a material instrument.” – Euclid