I can no longer characterize myself as a letter-writer. I, who used to write 2 or 3 letters a week, probably write only that many a year now. (Notes don’t count.) What happened? E-mail happened. In many ways, e-mail is far more effective for staying in touch. Our present world has become so fast-paced that to sit down, compose a letter, find an envelope and a stamp, and mail the letter has become too much of a hassle. Then there’s the fact that you would have to wait for an answer which would arrive who-knows-when or maybe never. On the other hand, for e-mail, you sit at the computer, scroll to the recipient’s address, tap some keys, and press send. Most often there is a response, sometimes instantaneously.
As with most things, there are positives and negatives connected with this transition. What’s been lost? Mainly, it’s careful, thoughtful composition and the distinctive personal handwriting. Perhaps, also, substance is lost. What’s been gained? We now have instant contact and an ease which allows for frequent conveying of the minutiae which fills our lives. It’s easy to dash off a sentence or two, sometimes even one word to update. Mostly I’m grateful for e-mail, but I still like rereading hard copies of some special letters I received in the days before personal computers.
© Dorothy C. Judd
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