The Importance of Personal Letters

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The Importance of Personal Letters

I’m all for technology, and all of the wonderful things that it allows us to do. But there are some things that technology makes obsolete, which shouldn’t be. One of these is the ability to write letters. Personally, I don’t often get the opportunity to write the old-fashioned way these days. In the fast-paced world we live in time is of the essence. This is true in just about every facet of the world, education, business, news, and politics. We don’t even wait to get home to watch the 6 o’clock news because we can get the same information instantly via the internet anytime we want.

I remember the days before computers were in every household, before anyone had a cell phone, before email was even a concept. As a child I wrote to a friend who had moved away and waited expectantly for the postman to deliver her reply. I remember the excitement of receiving a letter that was meant solely for me, a precious gift to read over and over. In letters to my friend I would include personal thoughts and feelings, describe what was happening in my life, and share my hopes and dreams for the future. Somehow these things are easier to write on paper than to share over the telephone. Perhaps speaking one’s innermost thoughts aloud makes them more real and less likely to be taken seriously. But if these thoughts are written, it’s more like a private journal you are sharing with someone. The great part about it is that you eventually receive a response! The person sending a response has a chance to think about how to respond instead of having to come up with a response on the fly. Some would argue that sending an email is the same, but it’s not. An email is not nearly as personal as a letter because it doesn’t put something into the recipient’s hand. Once an email is read, the window is closed and eventually the email is deleted, most likely forgotten a short time later.

Keillor suggests that writing letters is for the shyest of...
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