We live in the most connected time in human history. We can reach people all over the world on our cell phones, text with friends and family at any time, day or night, view pictures and updates on social media, and watch world events happen live on our TVs. Our global economy allows us to move all over the world for exciting jobs, and to vacation in the most exotic places imaginable. Yet with all of this access and travel, many people feel more isolated and lonelier than ever.(2018 Cigna U.S. Loneliness Index)
There are many reasons for this issue, and even more steps we can take to combat loneliness. But because of this epidemic, we believe that a handwritten letter is more valuable than ever. Some people might think that writing letters is old-fashioned and outdated. Why spend the time when you can send a quick text, “like” a post, or write a brief “Happy Birthday!” on your friend’s wall? But that is the point. Those impersonal gestures, although well-meaning, do not create the connection so many people desire.
There is something special about opening up your mailbox and receiving a handwritten letter. You then take the time to sit down, open the card, and read words that someone focused toward you. It is a form of communication that cannot be replicated digitally. The Art of Manliness discusses the uniqueness of a handwritten letter so well: “Ink from your pen touches the stationery, your fingers touch the paper, your saliva seals the envelope. Something tangible from your world travels through machines and hands, and deposits itself in another’s mailbox. Your letter is then carried inside as an invited guest. The paper that was sitting on your desk, now sits on another’s. The recipient handles the paper that you handled. Letters create a connection that modern, impersonal forms of communication will never approach.”
Creating that connection and emotion with another person is something we all aspire to achieve. Here are a few reasons putting pen to paper matters and will reach people in a way that digital communication just can’t compete against.
When was the last time you received a handwritten letter? Think about how you felt in that moment and your appreciation for being noticed, but also your appreciation for the person who wrote you the note. When letters are exchanged, relationships are strengthened. Not only do the recipients feel the love through the words written, but the authors’ gratefulness for the recipients grows as they think through their interactions and experiences together. Sometimes all we need to do is disconnect for a few minutes to remember experiences, stories, disagreements overcome, and words exchanged with our loved ones to truly understand their impact on our lives. When you spend the time to let them know what they mean to you, your relationships will be strengthened.
Leaves a Mark
I realize that our emails, posts, and texts are all saved in the “cloud” somewhere and are kept forever. There is, however, something special about a physical card that can be held and kept as a record in time. We have all heard stories of love letters being exchanged across years, and how they were kept in boxes in closets or under beds. Handwritten letters are something tangible that can be brought out during difficult, lonely, or even happy times in our lives to remember a specific point in time, or a relationship we will cherish forever. They are also history that can be passed down to the next generation, to share with them our pasts and those who mean so much to us. Handwritten letters leave a mark that cannot be erased.
We get one life and one chance to impact people’s lives. At the end of the day, you will be remembered for how you treat those around you and what you do with the gifts you have been given. Don’t regret not telling them how much they mean to you, and impact others though your handwritten letters. We don’t know when our last holiday or birthday with a loved one will be celebrated. Take time this year to put pen to paper and let those you love know how they have changed your life.
This holiday season test our hypothesis…handwritten letters matter. Instead of signing your name to the bottom of a prewritten card, sit down for a few minutes and put pen to paper. Let those closest to you know what they mean to you. Leave a tangible history of your relationships, and don’t ever regret not telling them how you feel.