Every generation is intellectually ahead and spiritually behind the previous. It is a proven and studied fact, widely acknowledged.
In the 18th and 19th century letters were the only means of communicating through distance. They were written once every week, most frequently, and took weeks to deliver on an average. Writing was a necessity for communicating. And in the process, people were in touch with themselves. It was involuntary and by default journalizing.
While narrating their monotonous routine or describing vivid holiday locations or expressing passionate emotions on any subject, perhaps people didn’t realize but they were reengaging with their thoughts, past behavior and emotions. Writing as an activity and irrespective of the subject matter is a form of retrospection. But when it is not consciously taken upon for the very purpose, it is not regarded as one. Besides, the time they spent writing was personal time, the importance of which is much in conversation today, seen as it is, a luxury.
Why did we stop writing letters?
An emoji summarizes our entire day and a gif represents us at the given moment. Parents are updated at intervals so short that there are no intervals. The world has come closer, scrunched up and tighter, and yet people have distanced. The warmth has evaporated.
Technology has eased communication. The anxiety sparked by a beloved’s sickness miles afar is undoubtedly dealt with by these inventions and discoveries in the communication industry. So, the debate on the impact of technology on communication is a subject of pros and cons.
And through the window of connection, the con of the 21st and 20th century communication has taken from us more than we would have consented to give up in the bargain. But innovation and development is slow progression and often escapes notice until one oscillates through time studying or observing it. And that’s how the significance of writing letters slid by us.
Another treacherous advantage, as I call it, of writing letters is expression of that which slips pass the grip of the best conversation. The act of writing deceives us in the reassuring appearance of blank parchment that it will fold itself shut, and lie unambiguous. So, we give in to its welcoming emptiness. We fill it with ourselves and association of our gravity. But what is once written can be burnt but never erased. And so it goes it with letters. As a substitute for private conversations, letters were both honest and discreet—which is again today considered quite an art.
It is not merely a mode of communication. It captured emotions, age and stories not written on it. The memories trapped within those yellowed parchments unfolded with it. Writing letters is not as trifle as it may sound. And, if you come to think of it, there really is no substitute or alternative for it.