18 February, 2013

Letter Writing - An Extinct Art ?




(Pic courtesy : boomer-livingplus.com via Google)
Even the most hardcore of computer geeks probably must pause every once in a while and wonder about the almost extinct art of letter writing.  That is not to say that people do not write letters to each other any more but rather to say that writing to each other has become / is becoming increasingly digitized.  We are indeed in a time and place in this world when things are getting increasingly mechanized and the digital era has virtually taken over every sphere of life. 
I was thinking about this the other day and did come to the conclusion that there is no competition to the innate satisfaction of actually putting pen to paper.  A pencil would do very well, too.  You get the drift, right ? 
I personally feel that there is more emotion involved in the process of actually writing something down on paper with a pen or a pencil.  A letter, a handwritten note, a handwritten birthday card – how many of us still do this these days ?  Not many, I’d think.  Take me, for example - I simply cannot remember when I last sent out a handwritten note or letter or even a birthday card.  Everything gets done on the internet.
The world that we live in has evolved so much that communicating around the world has become super quick.  It just takes a click of the mouse to send something across to someone halfway around the globe or better still to send something to a dozen people scattered in all corners of the globe.  Letters, in this case, would take much much longer and would essentially prove a lot more cumbersome.
Aside of the fact that letters are more personal and do carry a few degrees more of warmth than emails ever can, there is the distinctly added pleasure of feasting ones eyes on the writer’s handwriting.  It is a fascinating world, that one.  One that I am sorely tempted to delve into in much greater detail as in learning to analyse handwriting, perhaps but for the sheer lack of time.  Those twirls and curls and straight lines and the dashes and the dots – they drag you into a world of their own.  Often, when I come across something handwritten, I find myself being unwittingly dragged into a world where the alphabets and the symbols are free floating.  They are all around, they beckon, they greet, they tantalise you. 
For some people (like me :-() , writing and typing have become quite synonymous with each other.  Most of humanity has rather unconsciously (I guess) accepted electronic communication as the way to be.  Handwritten communication has quite become obsolete, not just old fashioned but cumbersome and too time consuming as well.  This is quite sad, given the fact that what we have lost out on or are losing out on is that charm and the warmth, the moods and the flavour that used to pepper handwritten notes and letters.  What the majority of humanity has opted for as more convenient instead, is a more bland, charmless, insipid, flavourless mode of electronic communication.
Writing, actually putting pen to paper and writing a letter or a note has a distinctly rustic charm about it that has begun to appeal to me.  This has been on my mind for a while now but the feeling is becoming stronger and stronger by the day.  The art of letter writing is something that will force us to slow down in this fast paced life that we lead nowadays.  As we slow down, we will take the time to appreciate the finer things around us. 
Also, there lies a sense of being wanted a feel of importance towards the person to whom the letter is addressed.  It gives the receiver of the letter a distinct feeling of importance, for he or she has been singled out momentarily to be at the receiving end of something as personal as a handwritten note or letter.  For those few minutes while we write to the person, we have, in effect, made that person and only that person, a priority in our lives. 
I just might decide to take up the old fashioned letter writing as a hobby, to begin with.  I feel this insane need to seek comfort in the rustling of sheets of paper, in the slight creak of the nib as the ink flows through and in the smoothness and sleekness of movement as the pen glides over paper or the slight scratching noise that a pencil generates as it weaves its magic on a hitherto blank sheet of paper. 
We have, I think, as a mass of humanity, sacrificed the love of communication to the need to communicate.  The younger generation now cannot even comprehend actually writing a letter.  So ingrained in habit is the email and the texting and the thousand and one other apps that letter writing has virtually been shown the grave, for all practical purposes.  The beauty and the art of letter writing has almost become extinct. 
Someone once said
What a wonderful thing is the mail, capable of conveying across continents a warm human handclasp.
I completely agree with Phyllis Theroux in saying “To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.”

6 voice(s) said so:

Pushpa Moorjani said...

its pity the future generation might not understand the pleasure of writing long letters full of emotions :))

Abhishek Deshpande said...

Whenever I pick up a pen, i feel I have to make an effort to write down words! its a sad situation..!

Aathira Nair said...

Letters and greeting cards are something which I just truly miss. I have so many letters from my cousins ... all written through the 90s... SOunds so long back.

Truly a sad thought that no letters and no postage stamps in the future, as I see it.

Nimue said...

i soo much love cards and letters ! i plan to demand a letter from boyfriend on birthday atleast :)

Aparna said...

So used to typing now, that if I have to write more than a couple of lines, feel like my fingers are aching :( ! Yes, letter writing has indeed become a thing of the past, well said Gauri!

~ Lopa said...

Some how it feels we are even forgetting how to write with a pen ! Once i was proud of my handwriting as teachers praised it and now whenever u try they just looks like some scribbled down letters !