There's no question that technology has connected the world in ways we couldn't fathom just a few years ago. We can instant message and video chat with anyone anywhere at any time. There's countless ways to communicate with whomever we choose, but screens cannot bring us tangible, printed word in the ways that hand written letters can.
The rise in technology has been reflected in the decline of newspapers, magazines, phone calls, and letters by mail. From 1993 to 2013 alone, the value of The Boston Globe-- one of New England's largest news publications-- fell from $1.8 billion to $71.2 million (that's over 96 percent!). Instead, news companies and magazines publish online where phone, tablet and laptop users can access material for free. The same goes for letters; instead of snail mail and postcards, we send texts and post pictures. Handwritten letters are a lost art thanks to these technological advances, but there are still people out there who prefer their conversations sent by mail.
Luckily for me, I happen to know a few of those people. Recently, a friend asked for my address to send some post cards to. My initial thoughts would've been suspicious if I didn't know her so well. The only other people to ask for my address recently have been a high school stalker and businesses who want to send me junk. This inspired me to buy some postcards to send to my own friends and family, but I realized I didn't know any of their addresses either. In today's world of text and GPS, I haven't had to memorize anyone's address or phone number like I did when I was younger. Needless to say, writing out addresses and notes proved to be a refreshingly simple and personal experience.
In eighth grade, my class was assigned a project that consisted of writing a series of letters to a family member throughout the year. During that year, I got to know my aunt whom I never saw often better than a lot of family members whom I saw all the time. I knew she would be the perfect person to write to since she was one of those people who always took the time to write out and send cards for birthdays and holidays.
One of my long-term goals is to become one of those people, too. Receiving the occasional card in the mail is a lot more special to me than getting hundreds of birthday wishes over Facebook. I can delete text messages without a second thought, but I won't throw away a note that someone took the time to write for me.
My generation is likely the last to remember getting letters in the mail, but I hope that we can take it upon ourselves to continue the tradition. It's personal and it's fun. It's a way to get away from the screens and get to know the people you meet.
Just like the difference between holding a book and skimming words on an iPad, reading a handwritten letter is a lot more special than scrolling through status updates that probably weren't meant for you anyways.