Texting is good. Before its onset I often complained about having solitude. I mean, who’s ever wanted privacy? Unpopular opinion: I have. Now, of course, with everyone having phones and widespread delusions of grandeur, I can be completely alone in the woods and be included in some group message wishing Dave a happy birthday. I don’t like Dave. I came out into the woods to get away from Dave. But now I have to listen to seventeen hundred people wish him a happy birthday. Who wants that?
The other day it struck me that the plots of so many old movies wouldn’t work if set today. The characters could just call each other, whenever, wherever. They would be forced to mention things like, “oh no! I don’t have reception!” just to sustain the plot, to which the audience would groan “how convenient.” Besides from obviating the modernizing of classic movies, with cell phones I also have to hear about Dave a lot more than I would have otherwise. And while hatred of Dave is no doubt already a convincing argument to hate cell phones, I will admit I might still be stranded at Chicago’s Union Station if it weren’t for them.
So cell phones have their pros and cons; but you know what only has pros? Letter writing. In conjunction with email for the everyday business communications, and texting for asking Dave questions about uranium to get him flagged by the NSA, the Letter has almost no modern drawbacks. The former drawbacks of letters were mostly because it was the only option–if I need to let you know about something quickly, I would desperately wish for a technology faster than the letter. If I had to send a letter to corporate headquarters each time I needed to get authorization, that would be annoying. But if I want to have a meaningful exchange that reinforces friendship and authenticity–am I really going to send a text? or an email? Who even checks their emails anymore? No, when there is something serious to discuss, or someone serious (wink wink) to discuss even the mundane with, I will use a letter.
Thankfully the letter has not lost all its public approval. From what I’ve learned by stealing people’s mail, love letters are still a thing. So are bills. Getting a love letter, or even just seeing a handwritten address amidst those rectangles of debt, has not yet lost its appeal. People love getting letters, but they never send them.
Think of all those great writers whose collected letters you can buy. In an age where we no longer send letters, the famous authors of the next half century will have none of this. Will we buy compilations of their tweets?
Call me a reactionary, but I think in the letter there is something desperately needed. There is the patience lost bemoaned by every older generation, yes, but there is also a sense of the physical and the deliberate in the letter. What’s more romantic: if we’re on different coasts and a) I spend three seconds typing and send you a text that says “I love you,” or b) I spend a half hour writing out my sentiments, seal the letter, drive to a post office, mail it, and have my declaration of love travel across the entire continent and end up in your hands for you to open? Sorry, ladies, if that was too romantic. Hopefully my earlier confession of stealing mail calms your fluttering hearts. Even without love, though, a letter says that not only did I think about you, I thought enough about you to go significantly out of my way to tell you. And in your hands you can hold proof of my intention! A letter is real. A letter demands respect.
There are many who agree with me. A while back I saw this blog post which makes excellent points. Then there is also The Postal Society, whose crusade to revive the letter is truly admirable. And so I call to you, as aspiring hipsters, or even as hipster haters–write letters. If you are from the hipster camp say you’re doing it because texting is too mainstream. If you’re from the hipster-hater camp say you’re doing it to send hate mail about hipsters. But there’s one reason we can all rally behind to write letters: to spite Dave.