The handwritten word deserves to be revived

The handwritten word deserves to be revived

The handwritten word deserves to be revived
September 24
12:00 2018

The written word is dying — and not only in journalism.

As a logophile this thought disturbs me, and as a writer it perturbs me. Whatever happened to passing notes in class? Leaving a message in somebody’s locker? Writing a love letter, addressing it, licking a stamp and placing it on the top righthand corner only to never send it (à la Lara Jean from “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”)?

The USPS delivers more than 493 million pieces of mail every day. This may seem like a lot, but this number is minuscule compared to the amount of mail delivered before technological innovations such as the fax machine, email and text messaging. The modern era is one of keyboards and click-clacking your way through a conversation.

Frankly, I’ve grown tired of it. So this past summer, I decided to dedicate some time to fully embrace nostalgic aspects of “the past”: writing letters and sending postcards.

There is just something innately special about having a tangible extension of somebody’s personality. Do they curl the tails of their Y’s and G’s? Do they place hearts above their I’s? Does their longhand resemble could-be, messy cursive? Or do they write in chicken scratch with a painstaking likeness to Woodstock’s speech bubbles from “Peanuts”?

There is a certain vulnerability that only comes across through pen and paper. When you are presented with somebody’s handwritten thoughts, it is as if you are glimpsing into their very mind. Vulnerability is the best way to show that you truly treasure and care for someone.

With that in mind, at the beginning of summer break, I wrote out letters to four of my dearest friends — only one responded. Well, truthfully, they all responded in their own way. However, only one sent a letter in return.

There are no words to describe the excitement I felt when I received it. To go through my mail and see something addressed to me that wasn’t a bill? That feeling is indescribable.

Slowly but surely (they don’t call it snail mail for nothing), our correspondence stretched to the end of the summer, to a time where I found myself in Panama City, Florida.

While searching for souvenirs to send to family relatives — as proof my summer wasn’t solely spent binge-rewatching “Glee” I came across postcards of the snowy beaches of the Sunshine State and just knew I had to send them. I bought a couple, wrote out my well wishes and sent them on their way across state lines to oblivious friends that would hopefully be delightfully surprised.

Sending them filled me with a sense of satisfaction. To be able to show someone the place you’ve seen for a couple of cents and a postmark is truly one of the most gratifying interactions. It feels much more personal than sending a Snapchat because this is a picture they can hang above their desk, marked forever by your words.

Maybe I’m romanticizing an era of sluggish communication, but I find that instant gratification just deprives one of anticipation. Though there are most definitely societal advantages that stem from communicative technological advancements, we must never forget the sensation of waiting.

To wait is a vital human experience. And there’s nothing more worth the wait than a letter.

Featured Illustration: Austin Banzon

About Author

Xaviera Hernandez

Xaviera Hernandez

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1 Comment

  1. Perry
    Perry September 26, 23:19

    Xaviera,
    Thank you for the well written story that certainly strikes a chord! I love the idea that “instant gratification just deprives one of anticipation.”
    Here’s to keeping handwritten notes alive!
    Cheers,
    Perry

    Reply to this comment

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