Romanticizing The Lost Tradition Of Letter Writing

Posted on October 7, 2013 in Specials

By Sayendri Panchadhyayi:

The discussion regarding globalization remains incomplete without the reference of social networking websites. The boom in the virtual networking medium has two very important as well as patent consequences. One, it virtually led to the shrinkage of the world enabling communication between and among individuals located at two ends of the global map. Secondly, these click away medium of communication have accelerated contact as well as facilitated relationships pertaining to the virtual space.

Example of handwriting with gold pen

Social networking sites have become such an integral part of our existence that it is almost unbelievable if an individual with an internet access is not present on any of the social networking sites. Mails, E-cards, pictorial customized messages etc. are available in diverse shapes and sizes to celebrate special occasions of your dear ones giving rest to all your worries of sending something on the person’s birthday.

However, this explosion in virtual communication has led to the death of informal letters. The appeal and seduction of letters cannot be equated with an E-mail. This is because letters are handwritten, devoid of the glare of auto-correct option that will place a red mark if one writes a grammatically incorrect sentence or word. While it may be argued that this is actually a learning process and hence the correction of an inappropriate sentence helps the writer to realize her/his own mistake, but what I feel is that the wrong sentences and words act as the window to the personality of the writer; the personalized touch which is ‘edited’ by the ‘boon’ of technology. The handwriting of an individual bears the secrets to the writer’s personal life, something that just the content can’t reveal.

The collection of letters itself weaves a story as it provides snippets in to those aspects of an individual’s life which s/he felt like sharing, making us think why those particular moments or events compelled the writer to pen them down. The scent of a letter sealed in an envelope with a stamp at the cover of the envelope has been a ubiquitous source of pleasure for stamp collectors and philatelists. The art of delicately separating the stamp from the envelope and making it a part of the prized possession of stamp album generates appeal that cannot be translated into words.

Unfortunately, letter writing is now a reality pertaining solely to the academic realm where each year a child is taught to write different kinds of letter to different people. The child is never encouraged to write a ‘real’ letter. Hence, this entire exercise of letter writing is clinical for examination purpose rather than being organic which would demand the expression of our voice from within. I am not denying the advantages of E-mails which would garner maximum votes due to its feasibility but sometimes, we need to look back in order to move forward. I fear that letters might have to endure the fate of the telegram. If so happens, it will be the death of a tradition and a journey.