Time and place: late 1980s, 5th grade.
“In the future”, my elementary school teacher explains, “people will send letters through computers to any place on the planet. And it will get there instantly.”
Gasps fill the classroom. My classmates and I clamor for more information. The teacher fumbles to describe how, assuring these “special” letters mean never having to walk to the post office. Sounds magical.
This discussion began thanks to the mysterious arrival of brand-new IBM computers inside our classroom. We don’t know where they came from, and the teacher has no clue how to turn them on. For months, these computers are roped off so we students do not break them with our curiosity.
Sometimes, when no one is looking, I tiptoe close to the boxy monitor and peer into the blank screen. I can’t see what’s inside the computer. My breath fogs the blank screen, and I get distracted by my own reflection. I peck the keyboard a couple times, then scamper back to my desk before getting caught.
Perhaps, in direct response to the arrival of the computers, the teacher devotes more class time to letter writing.
“It’s a practical skill,” the teacher says. “And, besides, who knows if this world wide web thing will actually ever work?”
Time and place: 2020s, my writing desk.
I am still writing letters even though the global juggernaut now known as the internet continues conquering everything in sight. Unless some renaissance occurs, the art of letter writing might someday vanish.
The essence of ourselves we sometimes think we are broadcasting through social media is often truncated by other screen distractions. The personality of our handwriting is constrained to pre-selected common fonts.
With every post I make on social media, I always want to add a disclaimer: “The following life has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit this screen.”
Letters invite both writer and recipient the chance to slow down and connect in a more permanent way. A way worth being cherished. A message on paper is a singular event, containing signature, time, place, intent. It absorbs every shade of mood and character, which is everything that an email and text message can never fully capture.
What to do with this information?
If this article inspires at least one meaningful handwritten letter, my work is complete. Give it a shot and make it count. Perhaps, someday, you and those you love will be happy you did.
Are you a budding writer, or maybe you have some experience but are not yet published on The Good Men Project?
What personal story of yours will touch the lives of the GMP readers?
WRITE FOR US!
When you’re ready, submit your piece to us, here:
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project, please support our mission and join us as a Premium Member.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS. Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo credit: Shutterstock