The Death of an Art Form
By Marcus Stuckey
There is an art form in America that is dying as we speak. It has played an important role in the lives of those who have experienced it. Those who have not are truly missing out on something that I feel everyone should be familiar with. When I was about nine years old my grandparents moved to Texas. At the time this was devastating for me, but I began to partake in writing them letters at the suggestion of my mother. The feeling that one experiences from writing and receiving letters is unparalleled to all forms of communication that are not face to face. The emotions, the time, and the effort that go into a hand written letter are conveyed in a way that no other form of long distance communication can do today. The excitement of receiving a letter that you have been expecting is incomparable. Is getting something quickly more important than getting something meaningful? Is the slow painful death of the art of letter writing warranted, or can we still save this unrivaled illustration of emotion?
Not too long ago, before the technologies of today’s generations, letter writing was very pertinent. Now it’s almost extinct, but does it really matter? Today we have email, instant messaging, texting; these quick and efficient forms of communication are far superior to a hand written letter. Today our society rotates around one thing: getting things done quickly. Since letters don’t do this they are clearly an outdated means of exchanging information. This way of thinking is truly an illusion. I will never believe that quick and efficient is more important than time consuming and meaningful when it comes to opening up and sharing with others. A letter has an aspect that no modern form of communicating has: it is deep, thoughtful, and one’s heart can truly be painted onto a piece of paper.
Instantly receiving something from someone by way of texting or email is just that: instant. There is no thought or feeling in this. It may be advanced technologically but not intellectually. A letter is a gift. If you were to ask yourself when the last time you received one of these gifts in the mail rather than a bill what would the answer be? The reality of the answer is not nearly enough, and that saddens me. The excitement and anticipation of knowing that a letter is on its way can make even an adult feel like a child. Checking the mail every day because you are expecting a letter is an amazing feeling, and if that letter isn’t there the disappointment can be overwhelming. Looking back at a letter years after receiving it is like looking through a window to the past. It shows who you were, how you felt, and how others felt about you even if they are no longer with us. That window can always be open, unlike an email or a text that one carelessly deletes when a new one arrives.
A letter doesn’t only show the person who receives it that you were willing to take time out of your day to do something thoughtful for them, it also allows you to reflect and sort out your emotions about whatever it is you feel the need to say. This personal reflection feels as though it is fading away here in America. People no longer take the time to reflect or even understand themselves. The reason that letters are becoming a thing of the past, and people are starting to care less and less about others (as well as themselves), is because of the pressure of haste. This plague of haste has been instilled in almost all aspects of our life. Society is brainwashed into thinking if something doesn’t get done as fast as possible there will be cataclysmic repercussions.
The only way that our society can overcome this epidemic of haste is to change the mind frame we have. If people would just slow down and take their time in the things they do, rather than rush through everything, America would be a much better place. I feel that the revival of letter writing is a key component to curing the haste virus that America has contracted. Taking a small amount of time to just reflect, feel, and share with another human being is, in itself, inexplicably gratifying. Being on the receiving end of that can be even greater. If we can save the beautiful art of writing a letter it would help us to discontinue the stressful, hundred miles a minute lifestyle that we have been dragged into. It will also allow for expression and self-reflection. If letter writing dies and this haste continues, future generations will never know what it is to reflect and be at peace.