Letter writing is a concept often idealised and romanticised. Once a useful way of talking to people, does it serve a purpose in the modern world of social media?
While there is definitely space for it within the realm of communication, its logical function has been replaced in this day and age. Social media has become our main form of written communication. No longer are people forced to wait weeks for a response from their loved ones in faraway destinations or family members who live on the other side of the country. Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp and even the humble text message now do the same job in a fraction of the time.
Alongside this, communication is no longer restricted to face-to-face or through writing. The magic of Skype exists and is ready to be taken advantage of. Instead of wasting time writing down everything you want to say, why not call them instead? It’s all the fun of human interaction with zero of the social clothing requirements.
A major argument in favour of letter writing is in the form of love letters. For centuries, people have been spilling their emotions onto paper in the hopes of getting an agreeable response. Sounds lovely, right? The modern equivalent of the 3am “U up?” text doesn’t quite compare. But who’s stopping anyone from spilling out their feelings onto a screen? The only difference between writing and sending a love letter versus a text is the romanticism of a medium.
The term “pouring out your feelings” is often applied to love letters. People spill their emotions out in excessive and dramatic ways. In the words of John Keats: “My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you – I am forgetful of everything but seeing you again – my Life seems to stop there – I see no further”. Can you imagine getting this in a Facebook message? It might cause some concern, but because Keats wrote it, it’s deemed acceptable. This dramatization of emotions may not be as common in 2017, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try.
Despite all of this, there is a place for letter writing in this generation. The postal system still exists. If you think love letters are the height of romance, go ahead and write some. Romance isn’t dead because people no longer send every thought to each other on paper.
Romance is dead because people are becoming desensitised to the emotions of others, but that’s not the point. By all means, write down your feelings and send to the object of your affections. Don’t be surprised if their response is in the form of an emoji-ridden text message.
Alas, the world can be a callous place.