It takes me all of a minute to shoot a text to someone. I timed myself and found it actually takes me less than a minute unless I’m in a very intense conversation which is known to happen from time to time. It takes me 30 minutes or so to write a letter. Operating under the assumption that time is all we have, writing a letter is a much deeper and more genuine investment in staying in touch with someone. It’s also impractical if, let’s say, I write a letter to my roommate to tell them I’m going to buy more olive oil. By the time I get back, the letter probably wouldn’t have been sent. The inherent part of letters that are so valuable is this same principle of time lapsing between responses. You cherish each word. You hold the letter in your hand physically. You see someone’s handwriting and the way their e’s look so different than yours. You don’t lose sight of what the letter said because you aren’t bombarded with follow up letters one after the other.
Side rant: Do you have those friends who instead of sending one long block of text just send 10 one liners? Your phone buzzes a thousand times and you think the world is ending but really it’s just this distracted set of text messages coming at you rapid fire. Letter writing doesn’t afford you this ability which is personally a relief.
More than anything else, mail is so rare (unless you’ve signed up for too many marketing campaigns) that sending a letter is a real treat for the receiver and sender. To write a letter, you have to really pause from your day and process what you want to say. I have to admit there are very few times I put so much thought into something unless I’m writing up a convoluted P2 post.
The best part for me is the writing and not immediately receiving feedback. You’re left wondering what the other person will say and what they thought of what you had to say. I think we are all too used to instant feedback so writing letters helps reset that itching desire a bit. The same thing goes for reading a full book rather than just a brief article on a topic.
Our world has become shallow in many ways purely because we are expected to be so interconnected. The more things you add to your life, the less time you can devote to each. The older I get the more I realize how invaluable simplifying my life is. I feel more in touch with who I am when I’m able to dive deep into a topic or a relationship or a sport. I tend to be very all or nothing and the way our society is set up I feel like I should be half there for everything. If I get too caught up in this half-there-ness, a void begins to grow and I don’t feel like myself.
Letter writing resets me and gives me the time, place, and space to reach out to those I care about. It allows me to dive deep. Ultimately, I write letters because the people I love are spread too far away from me and a letter is the only way in many cases to show I care in a physical way. The way I see it, the letters I send are as close as I can get to a hug… Until some app comes out that lets you send hugs via crowd sourcing strangers or something insane 😉