I don’t email as much as I used to. After college, email was a great, easy way to keep up with my closest friends, now scattered across the midwest. Sometimes it was a quick, one-off comment about whatever was going on, but at least once a week you could count on someone sending a moderately lengthly update about what was happening at their new job in their new city. With the rise of Twitter and Facebook, I think we’ve lost the art of the email.
I do, of course, recognize the irony of this. Ten years ago, when all this email writing was going on, the generation before us was decrying the loss of the art of the written letter. “Young people don’t know how to properly write a letter anymore,” we were told, as we rolled our collective eyes. A decade later, though, our decline in quality of communication has taken the next step.
There’s nothing wrong with social media; Facebook and Twitter are great ways of keeping updated on the daily goings on of friends we might otherwise lose complete touch with. But I think the fact that we see these daily updates gives us a false sense of closeness. That, because I saw what you ate for breakfast on Instagram, I have an undestanding of what’s going on in the lives of my friends who live several states away is a lie that prevents us from really keeping each other informed of what we’ve been up to. And so the months go by knowing more about our friends dietary and nail polish choices than how they’re feeling and what they’re really going through.
And so I’m trying to renew in myself the lost art of the written email that is longer than a sentence or two, and learn a bit more about what my friends are really up to in 2013. If you have any interest in knowing more about my life than what book I’m reading or what local restaurant I’ve dined at recently, I’d love an email to start the conversation. It doesn’t require a big time investment to write more than 140 characters, just 5 minutes and a little bit of thought.