Words are arguably the most powerful weapon in the human arsenal. From “if you don’t change, I’m leaving you” to “you look great today,” words have this strange ability to jog your thought process and focus on their implications. They begin wars and they end them; they are marriage vows and they are divorce papers; they are compliments and they are insults; and the list goes infinitely on.
However, with each day serving as a linguistic frenzy, we find words often aren’t used in the way we so desire. Small talk with awkward coworkers, someone bragging about their baby on Facebook, group projects with dead weight members – it is all very transient and often, discouraging.
I, for one, have started to wonder when communication became so meaningless. When did conversation lose its sentiment? When did we start speaking in 140 characters or less? You can’t possibly get to know the depths of another human like this, nor can you adequately express your feelings toward them.
When it comes to our loved ones, we go the extra semantic mile. We say “I love you”; we send novel-length texts; we caption photos with heartfelt messages; but do these exchanges stand the test of time?
Alas, I present to you: the handwritten letter. Let’s think back – when, if ever, was the last time you wrote someone a letter? For some of you, since ‘nam, I’m sure. The handwritten letter is a forgotten art, and I’m here to tell you why it’s worth reviving:
1. It requires time and effort.
To actually formulate a message to someone you care about takes some good, old fashioned, mental elbow grease. It requires putting pen to paper with a certain finesse that says “I think the world of you, and here’s why.” You’re taking time out of your busy schedule to organize your thoughts and feelings toward someone special, and that’s something we’ve lost touch with as a society.
2. They will have it for years.
Unless you have the ever-dreaded break-up or falling out, this person will likely keep your letter the rest of their life. Text messages accumulate and get deleted, or live slightly longer in the form of the screenshot, but to tear up a thought out, emotion poured letter is unheard of. My boyfriend and I have been through hell and back and I still couldn’t bring myself to trash the letter he wrote me in the form of kindergarten craft, heart-shaped valentine last year. It remains my favorite gift I’ve received to date.
3. It is romantic.
In the instance that you’re writing a significant other or love interest, a letter is romantic. It has a certain classic feel that I find highly appealing. You’re laying it all on the line, and there’s nothing more beautiful than a little vulnerability. Think Noah from The Notebook: all Ryan Gosling swoons aside, have you ever seen something more romantic than the dedication to writing a letter every day for an entire year? That is love.
4. It is individualized.
When you spend enough time with someone, you can recognize their handwriting a mile away. You might find your chicken scratch or poor spelling embarrassing, but someone who loves you finds it endearing.
A handwritten letter is also an opportunity for you to show your personality quirks and those of your relationship with the recipient. It opens up the doors to reminisce on important moments, inside jokes, and the nitty gritty that makes the love between you two unique.
5. It acts as a reminder.
When you reach into the depths of your soul (we’re getting allllll kinds of Shakespeare right now) to tell someone why you love them or why they’re important to you, you are reminding yourself of all the great things about them you may not have acknowledged in some time. Maybe it’s their perfect dimples, or a birthmark in a hidden place. Maybe it’s the way she drives with her left leg up on the seat, and sings without inhibition (holla if you feel me, girls). Maybe it’s his strange affinity for South Park. Whatever it is, this is your chance to relish in it for the first time in a while.
It also acts as a reminder to the recipient – a reminder that they are loved; that they are valued; that their relationship with you is still very much alive. You simply can’t put a price on that.