The art of letter writing

I was saddened to read in this morning’s Guardian that one in five children have never received a letter. I tweeted a link and a comment that it was sad. When I was a kid, I used to love letters arriving in the post. I remember the local Conservative MP writing to me about the closure of the local swimming pool. It meant a lot to me, even though back in the 1970’s he was in favour of “spending taxpayers money wisely” by closing my beloved pool. He still wrote back. I’ve never forgotten that.

Those poor kids who’ve never had the joy of opening an evelope from grandma or a pen pal in Malawi or the secretary of the Dennis the Menace Fan Club. These things should matter.

Opinion on Twitter was more divided. Some thought I was taking an anachronistic view.

“Seems like empty nostalgia to me. Like lamenting about how few children have used a plough. Or developed rickets.”

“its only sad from a nostalgia point of view. I’ve never been in a horse and cart which people would once have thought sad”

Others thought it inevitable:

“It has been downhill since cuneiform.I do get your point though, I think it is just one of those things that will pass. Like TB.”

“that is very sad. The art of letter writing is a victim of technology.”

But more thought that the art of letter writing was worth fighting for. The idea of directing ink across paper, crafting letters to form words was something to be cherished:

“my mum is a primary school teacher, and sends her 8 year olds thank you letters and birthday cards at home. They love it!”

Another, quoted Auden:

“And none shall hear the postman’s knock

Without a quickening of the heart

For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?”

This statement impressed me: “I sometimes hand write letters to friends. Sick of how disconnected net made us even though we’re more “connected” than ever.”

My pal Dan said  “I miss letters. Not bills, but handwritten letters from people you rate. #web0

So even the most digitally connected people love the idea of handwritten notes. I think we should create a kind of Secret Santa for handwritten letters. There must be some clever coders out there who could knock something up.


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