Will written letters become obsolete?


Lexi Bowers

With the increase in online communication, what is the benefit of written letters?
One of the most exciting feelings in the world is the feeling I get when I receive a letter in the mail. My name, written thoughtfully in the sender’s handwriting, adorns the envelope as I carefully break the seal, making sure to preserve the sender’s address.
In modern times, the only physical mail people receive anymore are bills, orders from online purchases, or holiday cards. Handwritten mail has been replaced by emails and text messages. While many believe that sending mail is pointless, I think that it can be a really nice gesture and is much more thoughtful than sending a quick text message.
For example, instead of receiving invitations in the mail, most people now use Evite, the online service that works as a digital invitation. Ripping open a letter and receiving a personalized invitation is replaced by clicking a button and a universal message sent to everyone on the emailing list. While this can be more efficient for last minute planning, sending an invitation by mail shows that time and effort were required to send the invitation. That may seem arbitrary, but it reflects how much a person appreciates your company by taking the time to make an invitation.
Personally, I think sending both an Evite and an invitation is a good idea because online you can find out the number of people attending, while obtaining the personalized effect of the physical letter.
I think “thank you” cards should almost always be sent in the mail rather through the Internet. Sending a text message to thank someone for a gift she gave you takes a lot less time and effort than it took to choose the gift. Personally, a thank you letter in the mail brings a smile to my face more than a single text message. Sending a physical thank you note shows the recipient that you appreciated her gift enough to want to personally thank her.
Although writing letters is a nice gesture that ought to be preserved in some fashion, I do believe that it will become obsolete. Soon holiday cards will be sent online, “thank you” notes will be sent via text, and the only addresses we will need to keep track of will be email addresses. This change is already happening and as each generation of children is born without understanding the significance of written letters, it will become extinct.
I understand that the impending demise of the written letter is not that big of a deal, but I think it speaks more to the kind of society that the world is destined to become. Soon, every aspect of our lives that used to be personal could become part of a virtual reality. Instead of meeting with our friends at school, we could resolve to taking all online classes and only talking to friends through the computer. Real laughing will be replaced by ‘haha’ written in white on a screen and smiling will be replaced by a uniform, yellow emoticon. This may seem dramatic, but it is already happening.
Right now, I urge all of us to make more personal and physical connections with other people, and the next time you want to thank someone, try sending them a letter rather than a text.