DOES TECHNOLOGY TAKE MORE THAN IT GIVES?
Take letter writing:
The art of the handwritten letter has largely fallen victim to the evolution of technology.
Communications today have become more immediate and almost entirely digital.
When I went off to college, I would communicate with friends at far-flung locations
by writing and mailing letters updating them on developments and responding to their own letters.
When college classmates would spend a semester abroad,
we would exchange letters on special airmail paper that was lighter weight and thus cost less to mail.
Phone calls were few and far between — even domestically — because long distance rates were so high.
Today, Skype can be used at low-cost to talk to friends overseas.
Email lets you stay in touch with friends in every corner of the country and the globe
virtually instantly at no significant cost.
WHAT HAVE WE LOST WITH THE DECLINE OF LETTER WRITING?
1.) SOLID WRITING SKILLS
Term papers are cold, impersonal. Short emails and texts are chaotic without form or structure or reasoned thinking.
Text messaging discourages correct spelling. There is no safety net of spell check with letters. You are forced to do it right the first time.
3.) THE VALUE OF WORDS
When writing a letter, it is important to consider how the words will be interpreted on the other end by the recipient.
The lag-time between writing and receiving a letter meant we'd best be careful we would not be misunderstood.
4.) OUR CONNECTION TO THE PAST
Emails are fleeting, highly perishable.
How many emails do you save for years?
All letters, old and new, are still-existing parts of a life.
To read them now is to be present in the past
with some discovery of truth or revelation of the soul that for the writer is just now occurring for them.
To come upon a personal truth of a human being, now gone forever, is to admit them in a way to our friendship.
It is much like receiving a winking glance from some very bright eye,
still mischievous and mischief-making, arriving from 50 or 100 years ago.
The letters of Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Raymond Chandler are good at that last.
BUT IN THE AGE OF THE SELFIE, DO WE CARE ABOUT THE OTHER PERSON ANYMORE?
Except as audience, of course.
I am ancient enough to remember photographs.
The treasured book of them contained more pictures of our loved ones and friends than of ourselves.
DO WE ONLY TREASURE OURSELVES?