On my return to my family home in the festively green hills of West Yorkshire this Christmas I found myself listening for a few hours to my mother reading through a bale of letters she had dug out that spanned her gap-year living with a family in the Austrian alps when she was just 19. I found their content fascinating and, although far more advanced and convenient, our generations equivalent to letter writing is seriously lacking in comparison.
In the bundle there were letters from my aunts about the smallest of things, about boys, about feelings, about details of their family life, there were in-jokes, references to pop-culture and even little drawings. From my grandparents there were more serious threads, about life, about happiness, about friendships and emotions and it was all so nicely framed in the most wonderfully aged packages.
The level of conversation, even though at times as facile as Facebook chatter, was indisputably more engaging. Hand written, character rich, the care and love involved in the art and even in the many mistakes and crossings-out. It was all so beautiful, a moment in time crafted wholeheartedly by that person for another person. And for someone who enjoys hoarding such captured moments for those seconds of joy when they are re-found years later, i now have a particular disdain for the casualness of Facebook.
In these pre-email pre-Facebook days it quite obviously was more laborious to stay in touch and to reach out to those who you care about. But think about how much more you would want to say when you did. How much more care you would take over what you wrote and the way in which you wrote it. You would say exactly what you wanted to say and you would remain true to what you felt. In the modern world we are constantly in live conversations, there is no real break. Someone is always replying. There is no down time. There is no time to think about what you really feel and how you want to get that across.
In today's world everything is recorded. Every little thing is captured, monitored, kept and stored, but none of it is special, none of it is treasured and kept for a reason. So instead of traipsing through conversation and email histories to find those moments that matter just write a letter, and you will say more and it will mean more to the person that you are saying it to. Then in 30 years time you can be showing future generations of you bundles of awesome letters from their families past rather than scrolling through page upon page of video links and inane chatter.
Although that does also sound like quite a lot of fun. So do both. Maybe future generations will blog about how the art of Facebook and email has been lost to the inane and homogenous realm of uber-direct-thought-share-devices. Well i say blog...