THE BLOG

An Audience of One - Why Letters Rock

05/08/2013 13:14 BST | Updated 04/10/2013 10:12 BST
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I put aside one Sunday every month to write letters to loved ones. Yup you read that right. I pick up a pen (usually a fountain pen or a very nice biro) and put said pen to paper and write full English sentences on said paper with the aforementioned pen. There isn't a piece of technology in sight. Well ok, when I Instagram what I'm doing to show off the fact that I still write letters to people.

Why is this so odd? Why aren't more people still writing letters or postcards or anything?! I can't be the only one that feels special when I receive something through my letterbox that isn't a bill or my latest order from Amazon. I know that emails are more current as is WhatsApp and Twitter and Facebook. It's not the same though - the immediacy of all this technology makes the items we share really impersonal because anyone can look at what we're writing/drawing/photographing etc. The beauty of a letter is that it is between you and the other person. JUST you and that other person. Everything you write in that letter (I'm excluding postcards because I'm almost sure that a bored postperson must read those) is for the eyes of the other person only. I love that about letter-writing - 'an audience of one'.

There's a reason why we still have to write thank you letters/notes to people when we receive presents because that written confirmation is something precious even more so now, because a person has taken the time to write something. The other side to this, is that as technology becomes more and more pervasive, people start lose writing skills. Handwriting is the first to go - because everyone types more. Add to this, limits on writing 'characters' on certain sites means that people become more and more used to writing in shorter sentences with barely a thought towards grammar or sentence construction or even a deliciously placed metaphor. In this light, you could argue that technology while giving us more room for communication has also limited the language in which we communicate.

It has been my experience that anything longer than a sentence is too hard for most people to read - be it a an email or a quickly written note. I can't imagine that this will mean anything good for the future. Writing a letter is one of my favourite pastimes (added to this that I write postcards to people everywhere I go) and I hope that it's an art that isn't lost as people become more synced up to their computers and smartphones. But think of all the amazing stationery that's out there for writing letters? When I was in Asia I went crazy and picked up multiple pads of kitsch paper (this was 4 years ago - I still have some). And beautiful cards - I spend hours trawling shops for cute cards or even old vintage shops for old postcards that I have to share with someone. And then the pens - you could literally write a letter in gel pens, ink pens, metallic pens and stickers! See this is where letter-writing becomes an art and so incredibly personal to you and the other person.

So please please, if you get the chance, pick up a pen and write a card to someone. Even if it's just a small scrawl 'I miss you' or 'My day sucked'. Just the act of writing and sending a letter will make someone's day and who's to say that you don't end up starting a whole letter-writing friendship with someone? Bring back letter writing!