Monday, 16 July 2012
The postman came today but all he had for us was a bank statement. Is it only me who mourns the demise of letters? These days we are able to communicate in so many different ways that wouldn't have been possible years ago but I sometimes wonder whether we have lost something in the process.
On any train you can see people with their mobile phones, i-pads, Blackberries and whatever - it seems people are in constant contact with each other now. Being on the train used to mean one was unobtainable for the duration of the journey and businessmen and women could breathe a sigh of relief at being not get atable for an hour or so. I don't Twitter nor have a Facebook account but these too I gather enable people to keep each other informed of their every movement. Why?
Time was when we made arrangements face to face or by letter and if for any reason it was not possible to keep to the plan then one had to telephone (always provided that both people had phones). People who did have a telephone often had to share the line with a neighbour - so you see phone conversations were not undertaken lightly. In dire emergency (or as a special for birthdays and weddings etc) a telegram could be sent - this entailed going to the post office and carefully writing out one's message, paid for according to the number of words used, and this message would be telephoned to the nearest post office to the recipient where it was printed out and a boy sent post haste on a bike to deliver it. Is it really possible that in my lifetime we can have gone from this to being able to speak, text, Twitter or e-mail anyone instantly? I do sound old!!
I miss getting letters from friends - they were an occasional treat and when I received one I often saved it till I had made a cup of tea and had time to sit down and really savour it. A letter could be re-read many times and saved - today's young couples will have no bundle of letters tied with a ribbon to look back on in their dotage will they?! You can't do that with a text message can you?
E-mail and mobile telephones are great and it is lovely to be able to send a message so quickly without having to trudge to the post box in the rain but I sometimes wonder, whether because contact is so easy to make, we actually make it more often, to more people. Just because we can doesn't always mean we should.. Do we read our e-mails properly and feel at one with the friend who wrote it in the same way as we would with a real letter when there are many more in our in-box waiting to be read. Are we forgetting the pleasure to be found in writing to each other on real paper with a pen and ink maybe. Will our youngsters forget how to write properly and will books (what are they now we have Kindles!) be written in txtspk instead of English? Will they all have arthritis in their thumb joints from all that tapping when they are old?
Modern technology is wonderful in its place but just occasionally I wish they'd bring back letters (though with the cost of stamps it would probably need to be only occasionally!).