I love real letters. I love opening my mailbox and seeing thick envelopes addressed to me in personal handwriting and not typed. Inside are pages and pages of handwriting, the strokes and curves of news, ideas, thoughts and feelings. Each page is almost a work of art, the handwriting unique to the individual and reflecting the writer’s emotional state at the time. Handwriting has more personality than any typeface, and unique typefaces exist. But for me, knowing that someone took the time to sit down, write by hand his or her thoughts and feelings to me is precious. Especially now that e-mail rules correspondence.
Not that I dislike e-mail. As a fast and relatively efficient method of communication, it works. For complete privacy, security, and fewer misinterpretations, however, nothing beats low tech. The last two years I’ve committed to writing more real letters. Showing people my respect and depth of regard by taking the time to write a real letter. I fear the craft and art of letter-writing will be lost. Instead of the collected letters of writers, politicians, etc., there will be the collected e-mails, instant messages and text messages. And what will those tech messages say? “U R my BFF?” How does that compare to “You are my only love” written by hand in a beautiful shade of blue ink with the distinctive script of the writer?
An entire generation uses text messages, instant messages and e-mails, even videos, to communicate. It’s fast for them, but I wonder just how much thought and effort is involved. A new form of English has evolved out of tech messages, one full of abbreviations and phonetic spellings. That’s creative, but just how expressive is this new language? How effective is it for discussing anything with depth of thought and emotion? From what I’ve observed, expressiveness and depth is lost in favor of speed. I fear the process of thinking and problem-solving will follow.
Will tech messages change also the writing of stories? The computer and internet have already changed the business of writing and access to markets for publication. Language evolves through usage. Do the computer and cell phones mark the beginning of the extinction of English as a living language? What about other languages?
In the Perceval novels, I made a choice to downplay technology and electronics. Real letters are as prevalent as e-mail and cell phones, hardcover and paperback books as popular as e-readers. I’m all for progress and improving life, but not at the expense of real, thoughtful, and deep communication between people, especially to promote understanding and empathy. What I created in the future of Perceval was the choice: one or the other, both or neither.
Now and in the future, I love real letters.