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The Campanile

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

The Internet controls us. From the way we connect with friends to the way we retrieve our homework, its hypnotic power is unfortunately essential to living today. Sure, the Internet can be extremely helpful at times when it lets us do things otherwise unthought of, like spy on neighbors via Google Earth or video call friends living across the country. We are so connected that a new psychological disorder has even been recently invented to describe teens’ separation anxiety when detached from their cell phones.
When I saw peers for whom addressing their college envelopes was their first contact with the United States Postal Service, I grew concerned. With all of this constant communication, whatever happened to handwritten thank you cards and old fashioned care packages? They still do exist, but it seems like these ways of communicating are as foreign to the people of my generation as Facebook is to our grandparents.
What was once old-fashioned is now in vogue again. From drinking whiskey out of mason jars to vintage film photography, tech-free culture is making a comeback. Even “Skyfall” featured James Bond’s return to the old-fashioned. While writing letters was once as ordinary an action as checking Facebook is now, it has become a lost art equivalent to developing film. But in truth, our generation’s inability to bring pen to power is frightening.
Writing a letter is more than just the words it contains. It is the thought and care embodied in a single piece of paper, a token of friendship or a shared memory. It involves paper and writing things by hand (gasp!) and stamps (“you mean you have to pay to send something?”). But all said and done, it’s worth it.
“I love to write letters because I know how fun it is to receive a letter,” senior Shelby Knowles said.
Seeing a colorful, postmarked envelope waiting for you in the mail is like seeing your presents under the tree on Christmas morning (or beside the menorah). It is the wonder of all of the hands who touched it to bring it to you, and the mystery surrounding its foreign contents.
“I write to my grandma and letters to friends in college and to friends who live in different states,” Knowles said. “I would write letters to Nira [Krasnow] in fifth grade even though we lived in the same neighborhood.”
Knowles has also maintained her letter correspondence with senior Nora Rosati.
“I [wrote] with Shelby Knowles in the summer when we were away for the summer since we did it before we had email when we were in middle school,” Rosati said. “Now we still go away for the summer, and we send each other a few letters per summer just to keep the tradition alive.”
Right now, we may live a mere matter of minutes away from our friends. But in as soon as a year for some, close friends will be scattered nationwide. And it definitely takes more than a few Facebook posts to maintain a friendship.
The personal touch of a letter is incomparable to electronic messaging.
“Letters are fun,” Knowles said. “You can’t put stickers on a text message.”
Rosati adds, “It’s kind of a fun thing to do, especially because emails or Facebook usually monopolize the communication world.”
So the next time you want to go on Facebook to send someone a message, try writing them a note instead, even one that you slip to them at school, and you will see how different it is.
As the great James Bond said, “Youth is no guarantee of innovation.” So let’s stop spending time in cyberspace and start innovating.

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