The Lost Art of Letter Writing
In the industrialized world, it’s easy to send an email or text to correspond and communicate with another person. We can embed hyperlinks or attach pertinent photos to shed further light on unfamiliar subjects.
Of course, in the ancient world, none of this technological wizardry existed. Still, communication has always been an essential part of human socialization, no matter the era. It’s key to culture, family relationships, government and business, art and education. That’s why letters held tremendous value in ancient cultures.
Even two hundred years ago, the idea of instantly chatting to someone anywhere in the world was implausible. Canada, the United States, and Australia are countries originally founded and built by immigrants and former slaves. When they left their homes and families in the Old World, it was often forever. Telephones, air travel, and cellphones were non-existent.
What if you were living in the year 1820 right now? Imagine your world, and your relationships with your family and friends without telephones, travel, internet, and cellphones. Imagine it without the advanced technology you take for granted today.
When I was growing up in a Canadian city, local phone calls were easy to make and we could travel almost anywhere by car or bus. If we wanted more permanent and personal communication we used pens, paper, and postal service. That is, we wrote letters.
For many of us, letters were ways to continue a summer love or discuss things with family or childhood friends. We maintained and developed deep, long-lasting relationships without texting, Facebook, Instagram, texts, emails or Twitter. When I met girls at summer Bible camp, we came not only forever soulmates (or so we imagined). We also became pen pals.
Pen pals were like Facebook friends, only without the internet. We would say, “Want to be pen pals?” If the answer was yes, we would exchange our home addresses on paper, store them in a shoebox at home, and reference them for years to come. The texture and sight of the notes — sometimes written in pen on napkins — would instantly rekindle vivid memories of emotional goodbyes.