An email felt different, it didn’t feel right. When you write a letter, it’s such an incredibly personal exchange between two people. It’s really intimate, even if you’re writing a letter to 2,000 people, which is what we are doing. The person gets your letter and opens it and reads it and takes time with it. You never do that with an email.
…When you sit down to write a letter, you really think about it. When I used to write letters, I would go to a café, sit there all day. When I receive a letter, I wouldn’t just open it, I’d sit down, get a coffee, get everything ready so I could really experience it. When you’re on the computer, you’re never fully paying attention, you’re jumping around. With a letter, you walk away from everything. You open it and read it. It’s just you and the letter. It’s an entirely different experience.
Dude, you and Nicholas Carr can speak for your goddamn selves. If the world is too much with you, that’s your problem, not the medium’s. I often spend hours per day on posts and emails — writing, rewriting, reading aloud, checking references, supplementing with links, and just generally letting myself get completely absorbed in the joy of crafting sentences. Most importantly, I make time to do it.
Being clairvoyant, I already anticipated and responded at length to this more than two years ago. Here, I’ll just admit that I, too, used to be a devoted letter-writer in my teens. I used to intersperse them with phone calls, saying that one of the advantages of letters was that no one ever came bursting into your room, saying, “Get off the pen! I need to use the pen!” Sadly, maybe my friends just weren’t literary enough, but their responses were few, far between, and left a lot to be desired as far as intimate, personal exchanges go.
Those very same friends are currently terrible about returning emails as well. You know, there’s a common denominator here, and it’s not soulless, impersonal technology. Motivation and conscientiousness do not inhere in ink and stationery like ghostly essences.