Letter Writing: The Stone Age


When was the last time you received a hand written letter? Think about it. Not an email or an electronic invitation to an event. Someone actually sat down and took more than 5 minutes to write a thoughtful letter to you. I remember after my grandmother passed away, we went over to her apartment to clean up and box the rest of her belongings. I was amazed when I opened one of her closets and found mounds of boxes upon boxes of hand written letters that she saved (yes she was a bit of a pack rat). She served in the army, at that time called the WAC (Women’s Army Core), so hard written letters were the only form of communication to home at the time. My grandma had letters dating back to the 1960s from family members, people she met in the army, and friends from her childhood. I remember sitting down for a long time after finding all of these letter and reading through stacks of them. Some letters were a few paragraphs while others contained pages and pages of words. There were letters explaining births, marriages, special events, deaths, and the actions of everyday life. My grandma loved reading letters because they allowed her to remember fond people and the memories that they shared together. I was sad thinking about how no one in my generation has the need to write a letter to someone because of the inventions of the internet and cell phones. Instead of having stacks of letters, we now have 1,000+ emails sitting in our digital inbox.

Don’t get me wrong, I think email is a great invention that is much needed in our high tech society. I can still remember the dial up AOL internet and the sound of “You Got Mail” erupting from the speakers of the computer. The same rush that people now get from receiving a text message was felt when people received emails in the 90s. People use their email for a variety of different reasons from conducting business to keeping in touch with family members to receiving online shopping deals. I check my email multiple times a day because of the important emails I receive from my professors, coach, teammates, bosses, and campus wide emails. Smartphones have made checking email so much more convenient since emails go right to you phone. I had a simple phone before I got my iPhone and I remember feeling out of the loop because I could not check my email whenever I wanted.

If servers did crashed and email was not available, the world would move a lot slower. People would have to pick up the phone to call people farther away, walk upstairs in their office building to get feedback on a project or even have to teach themselves how to send letters again. Business would be a lot less efficient, information would not spread as quickly, and people would be forced to pick up the phone instead of sending a quick email. Email is a very quick way to get in touch with someone if you have to write a long message with a lot of detail. It takes a lot longer to sit down and hand write a letter than it is to type out an email on a computer screen. Business is largely conducted through emails to approve projects, set up meetings and ask other coworkers for information or feedback. The world we live in is digitalized and the use of email has helped increase the speed of the world. People could live without email, but they would not be as efficient or productive as they would be with email.

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6 thoughts on “Letter Writing: The Stone Age

  1. I know exactly how you felt in the days before you had a smartphone. I didn’t receive my first smartphone until this summer leading up to my senior year at Bucknell. How did I do it before? In all of the group projects I have been a part of, when a group member sends out an email, they pretty much expect an immediate reply. If you take hours to check your email, or perhaps wait til the next day, then you are already thought of as a slacker to the group. Also, on a different note, I LOVE receiving real letters in the mail. There is just something about them that is more personal than a digital email. I really hope letter-writing doesn’t die out.

  2. I completely agree with your post. The art of writing a letter is essentially obsolete, since writing an email is so much easier and less of a skill. Also, writing emails happens so frequently that it almost is a nuisance to sort through all the emails we receive and figure out which ones pertains to us. Especially now that stores usually send mass emails that take up our space that we usually just delete automatically anyway. However, getting a letter always warms my heart, especially now that receiving letter doesn’t happen very often. I would argue that email has become so prevalent in our daily lives that receiving a letter has become so much more of a novelty, and therefore more special.

  3. It’s all about writing lengthy thank you notes in longhand. To this day, my friends parents still have my thank you note I wrote for letting me stay at their beach house for a week way back in high school.

  4. Monday. Someone hand-delivered a thank you note for some food we had givne them when they had a baby. A year ago! 🙂 Now an eternal cycle of thank-yous has started as we get them flowers to thank them for their thank you note…

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