Sunday, February 5, 2006

Point . Click . Message Sent (Or, The Lost Art of Letter-Writing)

Part 1.
With all of its conveniences, I think that there are many downsides to email. Besides being a fast, great way to communicate, and besides the fact that it doesn’t cost 37 cents per message, the negative aspects are still something to consider.
In the old days, letter writing was an art. Because it was somewhat expensive, it was considered special, and people took extra time writing the letters, asking clear questions, giving news and details in an interesting, yet condensed fashion. Through using email, people are more prone to write short, meaningless notes without any sort of personal touch to them. A lone email does not show time set apart to write to a special friend, not really. Especially when most emails begin with something like, “Sorry I haven’t written for so long – things have been really crazy [busy] around here!”
Through writing a letter, people not only appreciate the time designated to write exclusively to them, but they also appreciate the length and sincerity of a message written over a longer period.
Emailing doesn’t take long at all, so people grow to expect swift correspondence. The person replying to the email understands this, but doesn’t have time to write anything interesting in such a small amount of time, so they quickly respond with a short, insignificant email and disappoint whoever sent the original message.
Either we need to start writing letters or we need to take more time with our emails. We need to consider the interests of other people ahead of the things we’re interested in. We need to make them feel important by writing them something worthwhile – ask anybody – I am sure they would unanimously agree that they would rather trade in all the ‘quick notes’ saying how busy someone is, to have two or three longer, more personal, interesting letters that actually progress a relationship.
These hasty habits inevitably make email a great breeding ground for arguments to begin. To put it plainly, people just type too fast to consider the things they are writing. Misunderstandings are swift to surface through little-thought-over comments or not properly phrased ideas. On the other hand, take letter writing: literally days stand between each message, thus giving the ones communicating time to ‘cool off’ and really think about the proper response.
I am not trying to say that we should stop emailing each other, or even that email has no redeeming qualities. I am just concerned about the potential danger it poses for our friendships. Are all of our modern ways of communication depreciating our friendships?
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? So, when someone knows they can type an email, IM, or just pick up the phone to call someone, it no longer becomes a treat, the relationship is no longer special – because it’s easy. There’s nothing exciting or worthwhile about it.Unfortunately, I’m not writing to offer a solution –I am only writing to present this problem, and sound the alarm that friendships are not what they used to be. What needs to be done? What can we do to help? What sorts of solutions can we consider?


Anonymous said...

Just looking through some of your old blog posts. =)

You know, I think I might have a few ideas for creative solutions to this problem. I've been working on implementing them, actually; I've been emailing back and forth quite a bit lately and it's not starting to degenerate into meaninglessness yet.

Know how it is?