“I’m deep into writing love letters…” she said as she walked in the door. “I hope you can help me. I was up until 3 a.m. because the words kept pouring out.”
Simply put, I love this. I love that people are still writing love letters. I love that people are seeking out special stationery on which to write their innermost thoughts and share with someone they love. This makes me feel warm and nostalgic inside, and gives me hope that deep, poetic communication (and paper) are not things of the past.
I know I write about this topic frequently, and you can call me old-fashioned if you’d like, but there is a part of me that longs for a time when handwritten letters were commonplace- they were how we corresponded with people- sometimes the only way in which we corresponded with people over any sort of distance. Now, handwritten letters are pleasant surprises. And I fear they will become relics, true things of the past, evidence of a time when words were meaningful and carefully chosen because there was no backspace button. You had to think about what you wanted to say and write it carefully, hoping you were conveying your sentiments accurately.
Instead, we text now. Short little bursts of thought, like a fly fisherman’s cast into the virtual pond, to see if he can reel anything in. And if our texts aren’t responded to quickly enough, we interpret all sorts of things from the lack of response. Sometimes we jump to the wrong conclusions about our relationships, or we fear that somehow we’ve done something that warrants a communication freeze. Even if it’s only been an hour or two. We have become dependent on these little mobile appendages, and our sense of self worth- even our sense of security- can be threatened if our devices don’t beep at appropriate intervals to soothe our egos.
This is not merely a tirade on texting- it’s a criticism of how we communicate these days. To be blunt, we are failing miserably at communicating with others.
What would our relationships be like if we didn’t text? What if our communication was solely dependent on in-person conversations, phone calls, and written letters? What would our close, personal relationships look like? Would they be more secure? Would we worry less if the need for instant gratification was removed? Or would we feel cut off from the world? Would our communication hold more weight and be more meaningful if it was not relegated to a certain amount of characters? Would we be more productive throughout the day without constant digital interruptions? Would we feel more at peace and less anxious? Would we be more focused on our surroundings? I wonder.
Don’t get me wrong- I enjoy texting, to a point. I appreciate the convenience of responding in my own time. There is merit in the efficiency of sending a text to find out if someone is running late, or seeing if a friend is free to meet up at a moment’s notice. But there are times when I feel an ugly dependence on that little mobile appendage, and as my friend Joshua says, I more often than not feel the “twitch” when my phone is out of reach. I would really like to remedy that, so I’m going to write more letters, and send fewer texts. I’m going to stop sleeping with the phone on the bedside table. I’m going to put my phone on music mode at work and leave it alone. I’m going to focus more on the quality of my communication, and remember that I don’t need to be constantly “connected” to feel happy and secure. I’m going to focus more on saying what I really want to say, when it’s important to say it, to the people I want to communicate with most.