Many of you may not have heard, but February is apparently Letter Writing Month. I had not heard of it until this year when a writer colleague on Google+ mentioned it. I know what you are thinking; finally Google+ has a purpose.
But in all seriousness, I loved the idea. First, supporting our post office and keeping them sending letters is important. Those are jobs that could be lost if we continue down the path we are on. I like the post office. I use them for all my package shipping, and besides it would be nice to get something in my mailbox other than a bill and pizza coupons.
But there really is more to this for me. I am a fan of the letter. I have been since back in high school when I would write them on sheets of binder paper, fold them up into all different crazy types of shapes and then write SECRET on it. There was something about the written correspondence back then, and the waiting for a response was even better. Nothing was cooler then knowing someone took time to write to you, most likely when they should have been doing something else.
I’m not some old man either. Though I have been out of High School for nearly fourteen years, we had email and instant messenger back then. What we didn’t have was texts, we used pager code. And email, we actually used that to send letters. We used instant messenger back then to meet people, I met my only two serious loves via the internet.
Let’s face it; messenger wasn’t a substitute for the letter back then. We still mailed letters, we still sent birthday cards, we even hand wrote things back then. Slowly we stopped sending letters and began sending emails. But emails were still long, and talked about everything going on with us that week. At first, email was simply letters we could get faster.
And now, well now we don’t email anyone. We don’t have time to email anyone, let alone write a letter and send it in the “snail mail”. We’ve resorted to texts, Facebook statuses, Tweets, and private messages.
Yet, as we are able to instantly communicate with each other so easily, we seem to be drifting farther and farther apart. I hardly talk to my closest friends anymore. One tells me; sorry I haven’t emailed you back I’ve been too busy. I can’t even get a text from her. The other sends me a few texts once a month when I have to contact her about something else. Three live in the same city as me, yet we never seem to catch up. And another one is in another country so chatting sometimes doesn’t work out so well.
And there is the beauty of the letter. You can write it at three am when you can’t sleep, and I can read it at four pm when I have a free minute at work. You can tell me some of the best things about you, and I can share them with you. We can go back to writing questions like: What kind of food to do you like? What is our favorite color? What sports do you like? And much more. You can really find out something about someone. So much more than the fact that they like to post mad cat pictures.
In a time where I can find out so much about a person simply from a Facebook page or a blog, the art of conversation is really becoming lost, the written word even more so. But there is more to it than that.
There is no greater feeling in the world then seeing that I got some letters from a friend, even an email from friend. There is a little bit of excitement when you open the mailbox and there is something there other than junk. You feel like you mattered to someone. Someone cared enough to take the time to really connect with you. I’m a social person, and I am a person that needs to be appreciated. I need to know that people care about me. Letters, even emails, show that.
So that is why I was excited about Letter Writing month, or LetterMo as others say. It means that I get to send out 28 letters and hopefully they will send me something back. Who knows, maybe I will even meet a few more people and we can exchange letters year round.
I miss the days of long letters and emails. I miss really connecting with people and learning more about them. I don’t want to see letters go the way of so many other things. We live in an age where we have each other literally at our fingertips, yet we are so distant from each other in any real way.
It is only the fourth of the month. So go over to LetterMo.com and join the challenge. Fill a few mailboxes with affection and make a real connection with someone. You will probably find you like it a little bit better than the text message.