I knew how to text by the time I was 10 years old. Sure, it was one of those phones where you had to hit the number 2 three times if you wanted the letter ‘c,’ but it was texting, and preteen Emily loved it. Then came my first smart phone, and texting was even easier because each letter had its own key, and it was an even faster way to communicate with friends, family, and the cute boy who I’d been crushing on for weeks.
Though, too quickly, texting turned bad. Yes, it is a fast way to communicate, but you constantly miss information from the person you’re texting. You misinterpret tone, you think they mean one thing but they mean another, autocorrect is literally your worst nightmare, and you drunk text your exes. Ouch. Texting can be toxic but it can also be a relationship’s saving grace because it helps you keep in touch with people far away from you.
But, this is not an anti-texting article. This is a pro-letter writing article.
I love writing letters. I love getting out a fresh sheet of paper, a fun colored pen, and madly writing to friends about everything I’ve done for the past few days, asking them about their lives, and just generally catching up with them. Sure, you can do that over text, but there’s something more personal about handwriting funny stories, and a summary of my whole life thus far to good friends.
I put more emotion, and more thought into letters that I write, than I do typing out texts. Maybe this speaks to what a horrible texter I am (which my family tells me quite often when I don’t respond to our family group message), but I like to think it’s because there is more personality in handwritten letters. I get to tell the recipient of my letters long stories and tell them what I actually think, instead of shortening it down to a 150 character text. I get to say a lot more than I can in my texts because no one wants to get a text message that is several pages long; no one is going to read that. I get to speak my mind, and tell a story worthy waiting in the mail for.
Now, I’m not saying I’m gonna write everyone a letter instead of texting. Quite the contrary. I only write letters to people who I know will read them all, appreciate my writing, and reply to my letters. (Seriously, if I write you a letter, you better answer.) Furthermore, I’m only going to write you long letters if I know you’ll read every word and appreciate every word and laugh with me, sympathize with me, groan in embarrassment with me.
Because that’s the thing about letters. They’re emotional, and personal. They take time and thought to write because handwriting good stories is slow. In letters, you can share more things in clear, descriptive language, you can make your tone more clear in written word, you can share a more specific story, you can think out your answers to all the questions your friend asked you, and you can write out the thoughts you really feel, instead of shortening them to text speak, where u litrly cant undrstnd anthng (this is really just unneeded anymore with iMessage and smartphones, yet people are still using the shorthand).
And I’ll tell you what’s better than seeing your phone light up with a new notification from So-and-So from high school who just wants to say hi. What’s better, Emily? Getting mail! Opening up your mailbox to see a crisp envelope, thick with handwritten stories and laughs, with your name on it is like a mini Christmas (or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa). It’s so exciting. Really, who doesn’t like getting mail? No one is the answer. Everyone loves getting letters in the mail.
Handwritten letters are a mystery. What will your friend have said this time? Will you laugh or cry? It’s all a mystery until you rip open that envelope, unfold the paper, and start reading.
Featured image via Yasmine Swap.