Friday, February 27, 2009

Decline of Letter Writing

The BBC and Lee Drew at FamHist both write on the Slow Death of Handwriting.

I blogged last April on how I do not blame computers and email, as the stuff I send and receive via email doesn't resemble what I see in family letters. I feel the phone, and unlimited long distance cellular plans, have had a greater effect on the decline of letter writing.

Regardless of the blame, though, one can't deny it's happening. The BBC writer ends their article with:
Perhaps the best argument for keeping our pens is that otherwise, in a society that is recorded in more detail than any which came before it, we will leave plenty of data but very little of our personalities behind.

Our descendants may struggle to read our letters, but they'll never even see most of our texts and e-mails.
At the moment I don't think there is a way to save text messages for posterity. However, those who delete their emails are doing the same thing as our ancestors who threw away their letters. Many do delete their emails; and many did throw away letters. In both cases, it's a conscious action that can be changed.

The best method, I think, is to print out emails you wish to save twice - once to paper, and once to a PDF file to store digitally.

Lee Drew asks
How about you? Are you contributing to the mass extinction of the art? If not, how are you feeding its continued existence?
I write a lot of poetry, and while I often compose on a computer, I also often compose with pen and notebook. I haven't discarded these notebooks. So in addition to my saved emails, and blog posts, future generations will see my handwriting.

However, when I write with a pen, it is rarely in cursive script. I attended one of the best school districts in the State of Missouri, and they gave up teaching me to write legibly. The summer after fourth grade, they forced me (and no others in my class) to learn to type. I probably shouldn't be proud of the causes, but my early learning of typing has served me well in this computer age.


Wendy said...

Well, there are a few of us trying to keep the art alive. I'm glad you care about it, too!

If you want to find some other fans of letter writing, come check out A Passion for Letter Writing

PostMuse said...

I write, lots. I have always been a letter/postcard writer and currently send about 50 pieces of mail a week. I haven't yet got caught up in fountain pens, but I'm sure that is coming. My letters and postcards are generally chatty, but brief. I'm into the moment, not a diary. Oddly, I don't write to my family nearly as much as I should.