The title expresses my feeling about more than 90% of the written communication I receive today. Email and text and crappy, boring flyers. I was speaking with a fellow poet earlier today and that started a bunch of thoughts rolling around in my brain. Here is the first draft of a poem that came from those thoughts and feelings. I think it needs work but as a guy who loves words and poetry and tries to communicate emotions and evoke a response I know it is going somewhere.
Black marks on a white background Pixels forming the shapes of letters Words on a screen
Slashed and pecked Clicked and clacked Thumbed or fingered And click to send
Drab and boring Unemotional No beauty No flow Just click and go
The power of words Thoughtlessly ignored Sacrificed for speed Just to meet the instant need Written in haste Thoughtless writing A waste
No description No emotion Perhaps an emoticon Click and gone Then move on
No thought for the deed Of writing words for others to heed No sharing of soul Speed the only goal
Thoughtless writing Words on a screen No cadence or flow Words sent in haste Bland and boring (Excuse my snoring)
In the last few decades the speed of society and power of technology has caused millions and millions of people to abandon an important social skill. In this age of ever increasing isolation and loneliness there is one social skill that can build real and meaningful relationships with those we care about.
What social skill were many of us taught as children and which we in turn have not taught our children? What pleasure are we denying our children because we have abandoned this skill? What social skill have we ignored because it is inconvenient? Because it takes time? Because it costs more than an email?
As I’ve matured I have realized the many joys I have experienced and that millions of people have never experienced. One of the things that is nearest and dearest to my heart is sending and receiving letters in the mail. I was in the navy for twelve years and when I was at sea mail call was one of my favourite things. The simple pleasure of a card or letter could turn an stormy mental attitude into a sea of tranquility.
Yes, email is faster. Yes, email is cheaper. But does email evoke an emotional response? Can you put an email in your pocket to read and then reread later? (I know you can print an email but do you?)
According to Gmail I have 4,366 unread email in my inbox. Most are actually subscriptions that I never seem to get a chance to read. If they were printed I would have read them as soon as I could.
If you want to build relationships with meaning write a letter or send a card.
If you want to show someone going through a hard time write a letter or send a card.
If you want to tell someone you care write a letter or send a card.
If you want to show true gratitude send a letter or card.
Don’t let “Cost” or “Speed” or “Convenience” stop you from sending something real to someone.
I find when I write a letter I am more aware of what I am writing than when I send an email. In my mind it feels like email are relegated to work or “just the facts”. Letters allow me to share thoughts and feelings as well as facts. Receiving letters or cards is a real experience and makes people feel valued.
Sadly, I am beginning to think that writing letters is a lost social skill and believe that society is worse for the loss.
Help revive this important social skill. Help bring it back from the edge of extinction. Send someone a card or letter in the mail. Even just a few words is better than nothing.
Stay tuned because I still have more to say on this topic.