June 27, 2011
Today’s youth are growing up using the computer. They are trained to print in the early grades and then “keyboarding” comes along by maybe the third grade. Cursive script is not compulsory, perhaps it is not even offered. To describe the joys of letter writing to the current culture, one might as well be speaking Martian. They don’t know what they are missing since they have never experienced the anticipation and thrill of “snail mail correspondence.”
Instant gratification rules this techno culture with its heavy emphasis on speed. Impatience and rudeness are the results as no one wants to wait for anything.
So what is the rush all about? Is faster really better? Does greater productivity = greater value? Is this really true? Multitasking might appear very productive, but studies have shown that the human brain can only focus on one task at a time. Therefore, multitasking means we are doing more with scattered, divided attention and the end results might have skipped steps or may need to be done over, or worse! Remember the old adage: “Haste makes waste!”
Yet there is no denying the culture demands that we go faster. And there is a price. Our ever increasing dependency on technology has lowered our customary courteous standards for human communication. For example, we text message our thank you notes, email our sympathy regrets and love letters. I have even heard of a wedding invitation being sent via email! So much for a personal touch.
I’m afraid that the concept of this techno communication is more focused on the sender than on actually relating to another. Take for example the teen who sent 4,000 texts a month to end up with carpal tunnel at age 16.
Technology is here to stay. And there are many wonderful ways that instant messaging can save valuable time, money, property and lives! What I want to suggest is a way for the old and the new to co-exist. Knowing when to back away from the gadgets is key. Just like choosing the right outfit for a particular event, we need to step back and think what method of communication is appropriate for a specific occasion. It might take some courage and it might feel a little weird to not simply fire off an obligatory response.
Let’s launch a campaign to reclaim a piece of our humanity with SLOW WRITING! For those of us who know how to write, I suggest you might start out slow and easy by sending a friend a postcard or a well deserved thank you note.
For the printing generation, consider the rebellion aspect. Go counterculture and pick up a pen and paper. Think private and very personal, not like on Facebook where the whole world can view your stuff. Take what you would put in a text message and write it on a postcard. You will really stand out and people save messages on paper. If you want to really impress a friend, try it!
Comment from Sharon-
I love this post! Boy are you ever right about it too. I’ve started trying to mail more, write more snail mail and I’ve even been talking to my granddaughters about how important I feel that it is. I’ve been writing them letters. Sometimes, I even get one back from them. They are 10 and 9 years old. I’ll be posting about letter writing more on my blog too. http://happeningsonchaosranch.wordpress.com
I plan to link to this post. Hopefully, more will read it and start writing!
Comment from c.j.-
I just love that term, “slow writing”! I view it as almost meditative. The process of selecting just the right card/postcard/stationery for the intended recipient, then putting thoughts and feelings on the paper just for that person, all the while picturing them in my heart.
There is something very special about recognizing the handwriting on an envelope which adds delicious anticipation and a special connectedness when I receive mail! So much different than a typed envelope.
And Sharon, your post about your granddaughters is just so dear! May you enjoy a long and healthy correspondence!