By Jane Bowden
Like most Generation Z adults, I’ve been using technology to communicate with the world around me since I was about 8 years old.
In 2007, online games like Club Penguin and Webkinz connected me with my friends from across town without leaving the comfort of my family’s computer room. In 2010, Tumblr was a bridge between myself and others who were my age and lived across the country. In 2014, social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat introduced more ways to interact with my friends, family members and people from all corners of the globe through the ease of a few clicks.
But within the past few years, I’ve discovered a newfound love for an ancient means of communication — sending and receiving handwritten letters.
This love for snail mail started in 2016 when two of my friends were moving to out-of-state colleges — one to North Carolina and the other to Hawaii — and I was still in our hometown going to community college. It was hard for us to part ways, as we had become best friends in high school, and part of me feared that even with the ease of texting, we’d lose the strong bond we had.
That’s when we vowed to write letters to each other every few months.
We wrote about everything — how school was going, what we’d do for the next time we’d all be home and, most often, how much we missed each other. Every time I received a letter from them in the mail, it felt like I had just discovered money in my pocket that I didn’t know was there, finding a lost item that had been missing for months or buying a shirt you thought was full price only to find that it’s on sale — it was like a surprise that I never got tired of.
Three years later, and about 15 letters later, my friends and I still write to each other every so often. It’s through these years that I’ve realized how heartfelt letter writing is and how it can really transform your relationships.
In today’s day and age, texting is as simple as it can be. You can connect with another person in a matter of milliseconds, without much thought and while multitasking. Just think — how many times have you watched a Netflix movie only to realize that you didn’t even really watch it because you were on your phone the entire time?
However, when you write a handwritten letter, you’re forcing yourself to focus solely on the person you’re writing to. Sure, you can still listen to music or play a movie in the background. But you’re more concentrated on physically writing out what you want to say in a way that you can’t do with texting, which is therapeutic in and of itself.
Writing letters also shows the other person how much you care about and appreciate them. You’ve taken the time to get a piece of paper and a pencil, write your thoughts down, enclose the letter in an envelope and send it to them, all of which takes a lot more time and effort than sending a text or even an email.
Finally, writing a handwritten note is like creating a homemade gift for someone. You’re writing it in your own handwriting, not in Times New Roman size 12 font, and you’re giving someone a piece of yourself that they can physically hold onto for the rest of their lives, something I’ve been doing for the last few years with my friends’ letters.
As the years pass, our world will inevitably become more technologically advanced. It might even be that holograms will replace texting, and everything we know today will become a thing of the past.
But one thing we shouldn’t forget is how meaningful writing a handwritten letter to our friends and family can be. All it takes is a piece of paper, a pen and a few minutes of your time to show how much you care about the people you love.