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We live in a world where everything is becoming increasingly digitised, including our communication. Our phones are always glued to our hands, from the moment we wake up, to the moment we fall asleep. Especially during the global pandemic, social media and texting is often the only way to stay in contact with friends, family and other loved ones. But what if, for the Christmas period, we went back to more old-fashioned methods of communication? What if we went back to a time when letters were written to friends? Here are a few reasons why letters should become the new Instagram DMs or WhatsApp messages:

 

We put more thought into letters

Studies have found that 65 billion WhatsApp messages are sent every day in the world [1]. The average British citizen sends 74 messages a day [2]. In comparison, the Royal Mail sends 14.4 billion letters per year in the UK [3]. It is therefore clear that sending letters has become rarer.

Messages are easy, instant and don’t require a lot of effort. Of course, they are extremely convenient when it comes to arranging practical things. However, in terms of addressing deeper topics or telling entire stories, they can be very superficial and, in a way, not worthy of the things we are talking about.

The process of writing a letter is a little longer (and you can’t so easily delete things), which means we have to actually think about what we are writing and structure our thoughts. For instance, if we write about our holiday (or that latest gossip), we have to ensure that the person receiving the letter actually understands what we are writing. We have to be precise and properly set the scene in order to make our letter come to life.

On a more trivial level, for the person receiving the letter, the fact that they know that the person actually set down and perhaps spent hours writing a letter for them shows how much they mean to them. In a way, a letter is a sign of ‘hey, I care and I took the time for you and wrote you a letter’.

Of course, a letter doesn’t have to be long in order to be satisfying. Even a postcard, or a little something, can be a really nice gesture! It is also more personal and palpable than a message: even a cute message, once sent, just disappears in a sea of messages, whilst a postcard can be kept and looked at whenever the person misses you!

 

There is a special aesthetic about letters

Let me just set the scene: you’re sitting at your desk or on your bed, looking out of the window into the distance, with a beautiful pen in your hand, thinking about what you’re going to write in your letter.

Writing letters is also part of the aesthetic of ‘dark academia’, which ‘revolves around classic literature, the pursuit of self-discovery, and a general passion for knowledge and learning’ [4]. When looking around on forums, one of the main tips given in order to get the ‘dark academia aesthetic’ is to ‘give handwritten letters to your lovers/friends/yourself’ [5].

So, if this more classical, preppy ‘dark academia’ is something you’re into, writing letters will complete that! And even if that’s not your thing, the process of writing a letter can just be really enjoyable!

 

Writing letters can be extremely therapeutic

It may sound weird, but it’s so true! I once tried it out with a friend I’d had an argument with: I wrote her an ‘apology letter’ and it was incredible how, as I was in the flow of writing, all my feelings of sadness, anger and regret slowly started to fade and magically dissolve away. I felt relieved and at peace when I had finished writing my letter. Writing your feelings on paper is extremely soothing and satisfying. This is also the reason why so many people journal.

Of course, an apology message can also be nice, but writing a letter, as I mentioned in both of my previous points, just feels like a more thoughtful gesture.

This doesn’t only apply to apology letters, but to any types of letters: sharing your feelings on physical paper is, in my opinion, the most liberating thing there is.

On a more trivial and sassier note, if you receive a letter that makes you feel anger or sadness, you get to physically rip it, which, trust me, is extremely satisfying too! You can’t do that so easily with a phone!

 

I hope that my article has left you longing, and given you the motivation, to write a letter to your loved ones! If this is the case, grab your prettiest pen and start writing!


Two letters in letter box
Photo by Aelis Harris from Burst/Shopify

European Politics student, chocolate-lover and writing enthusiast
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