July 31 2016

The Last Time You Wrote A Real Letter


Remember the letter? You would take a pen or a pencil, and paper – paper that you can run between your fingers and cut yourself with if you weren’t careful – and you would carve the words into the page. The reader could see my thoughts unraveling – taking a step down one avenue, reassessing, having a change of heart, backtracking, and proceeding in a different direction. No such insight is afforded with a backspace. (The irony is not lost on me, as I type about how I miss the beauty in all that’s hand-written.)

Sometimes it feels like we have no interest in letters anymore. They’re antiquated, time-consuming, outdated. And we are impatient, impersonal, and too ensnared in the speed of technology to make time for the purity of unadulterated human interaction. It seems we prefer a disconnected communication, having grown uncomfortable with overbearing intrusions into our privacy and our space – weird, obnoxious impositions such as eye contact and the ebb and flow of conversation that is heard rather than typed. We have forgotten the nuances of human emotion and reaction that organically insert themselves into conversation – a smile rather than an “lol,” a tonal change, a warming of the eyes, a squeeze of the hand, an indication of understanding – emotions instead of emojis.

But I was lucky enough to have a childhood that existed pre-deluge — the avalanche of technology and social media that somehow makes communication faster but more shallow, easier but less appreciated, perpetual but less personal. So I straddle this line – I appreciate and miss what once was, while engaging in what now is. I text about the beauty in a hand-written letter, I tweet about how Twitter, while a great place to get news, has both exposed and exacerbated the worst in people. I tweet about how Twitter perpetuates a culture of accommodation, a deeply festering obsession with validation – and I check to see if it got any retweets or favorites.

We don’t meet up for coffee with potential romantic encounters, we exchange Instagram names and then swap occasional texts and like each other’s pictures for the rest of eternity. And when we cut off someone, when things don’t work out, when it’s time for a splitting of paths, we never really fully detach. We end communication but are still plastered throughout each other’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn timelines. We live in a one foot in, one foot out generation, where everything has a noncommittal feel to it, where our facades are more important than our feelings, where the best way to be cool is to be told so by as many strangers as possible. We end things with people but linger somehow because our online extensions of ourselves are too tangled, and let’s face it, your ex still likes your photos and every like counts.

I’m trying to be more conscious of the casual attitude I almost unknowingly adapted with regard to committing to plans; I tell myself that if I say I’m going to do something, that means I’m going to do it – and there is great value in that. There is great value in giving my word – for me, for those to whom I extend it. Yeah, I still Facebook, Tweet, post photos on Instagram, and text. But I promise myself I’ll never let go of the desire for the really meaningful, deep, substantial connections that only come when connectivity is hard to maintain.

I am participating in Half Marathon Blogging Challenge with Blogchatter.

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