Why I'm committed to preserving the write stuff

A letter has more resonance than a text, even for a generation for whom LOL is infinitely preferable to "yours sincerely"

Share
Related Topics

Andrew Marr began his Start the Week programme yesterday with a very interesting, but rhetorical, question: would you recognise your friends' handwriting?

It was certainly a challenge: I don't even recognise my own handwriting these days, so rarely do I put pen to paper. And I can't remember receiving anything other than an electronic communication from a friend: I'm too old for birthday cards and, anyway, it's the text that counts. Does any of this matter?

I suspect that the audience for a Radio 4 programme on a Monday morning is at the senior end of the age range, so a discussion on the disappearance of handwriting from our lives is certain to invoke a wistful response, leaving the listener to ponder how the march of technology has swept before it some of the habits and courtesies of old. I share some of these feelings, and I defy anyone not to find the receipt of a handwritten thank-you letter more affecting than a text, however many kisses or smiley faces are attached.

And the author Philip Hensher, on the programme to discuss his new book about the lost art of handwriting, made an irrefutable point about the permanence of thoughts expressed on paper, explaining that he had recently come across a letter that his sister had written him 32 years ago. Of course, a text would not have such longevity, but it was the emotional connection to a simple note that he found most powerful.

"It was full of her personality," he said. But, for someone who earns his living with the written word, I find it hard to get worked up about the gradual falling out of fashion of one method of communication, particularly as more immediate, and arguably more efffective, forms have emerged.

In any case, I think that we will always have a need, and desire, to write things by hand.

People once said that the invention of the camera would mean the end of portrait painting. They said that TV would kill cinema. And that no one would read a book any more. It all boils down to the question of format or genre.

We don't care whether the music we're hearing comes from a radio, a CD player or a computer. The music is the genre, and the format is irrelevant. But there is a qualitative difference in the experience between reading something on screen and seeing the exact same words handwritten on vellum paper.

That's because the stylistic criteria attached to putting thoughts, feelings, ideas down on paper turns it into a genre, which will have an enduring appeal.

For instance, a letter has more resonance than a text, and even a generation for whom LOL is infinitely preferable to "yours sincerely" knows that.

Here's the rub, though. I am very keen on texting, but I really love getting a letter. I suspect I'm not alone in this, which is why we all text and never commit our thoughts to paper. So I've decided to send my friends the occasional letter. The trouble is that I only know their email addresses.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas