Dear Doctor Pockless,
I am forced to agree with your recent thoughts on letters- I too have noticed a severe drop-off in my own letter output. I attribute this mainly to the fact that my hand-writing, never good at the best of times, has deteriorated to the point where even I can no longer read it. So now all my writing is done into a computer, and once in digital form, sure, I could print it and mail it, but isn’t it just so much easier to hit ‘send’? I still take the time to write hand-written letters, but I somehow suspect their recipients appreciate them as a gesture, as opposed to something they can actually read and comprehend.
And that’s the important thing, isn’t it? The gesture. Seeing a little envelope with your name on it when you open the door, sensing the weight, breaking out your letter-opener that you only ever use for miniature mock sword-fights, the feel of the paper in your hands, looking at the script and marvelling: “The person who wrote this held this paper! As my eyes read, their pen wrote.” And not only that, they went to the post office and paid for a stamp, too. It’s that feeling that we’re missing, not the content.
Similarly, CDs have destroyed the Dan-mixed-tape. I used to make at least one of these a month and send it to a friend- not just a collection of songs, but me, in-between the songs, chatting about what I was doing, getting my friends to say hi, playing samples of movies and shows that I liked. Then I decided to ‘lift my game up’ and shift to CD. What a disaster. Dividing what used to be a random mess into the ordered track-by-track structure of a CD completely destroyed the spontaneity of mix- it all became about what sounded better, track 7 needs to be the best, have to follow the rules from High Fidelity. And don’t get me wrong, when I make a mixed CD, it still kicks ass, but it’s not nearly the creative and haphazard endeavour my tapes used to be.
As our lives become more and more digital (e-mails instead of letters, CDs instead of tapes, blogs instead of diaries), there are tremendous advantages in speed- trying to use as little of our precious time commodity as possible. But perhaps the time you spend on creating something reflects to the person you are creating it for just how much you care, what you are willing to spend to give them that special feeling you get when opening a real live letter- which is why I don’t think you should have allowed your responses to be here on Uborka (these aren’t letters!), but through your mailbox. Now there’s a challenge.
Dear Doctor Pockless,