I was reading this post by Seth Godin today which made me think about how we communicate through letters today.
In summary, his posts teaches how to send a personal email. It’s a valuable skill, and due to the volume of automated email (and spam!) that we get daily, it’s starting to become something of a lost skill. I’m lucky to get one personal email a day. Some weeks I get none at all.
Once I read Seth’s post, I sat down and wrote an email to one of my friends. My email was a few paragraphs long, maybe 200 words or so. The response I got back was a single line, probably under 100 characters. It was as if I had just been sent an SMS via email. And then I realised; that was the usual medium of communication for my friend.
Which makes me feel a bit sad, for a couple of reasons. We read stories all the time about people in the early days, before the Internet (gasp!) who wrote letters to each other constantly. Around ANZAC day here in Australia, we get reminded a lot of the soldiers in the world wars who wrote letters to their loved ones, basically just to tell them they were still alive. Seeing as it took weeks or months for the letters to get home, it must have been a powerful experience to get a letter.
It also makes me sad because my friend didn’t take the time to write a full letter back. That’s not how text messages work. With a text message, it’s say a sentence, other person replies, say something else, reply, and so on. It can go on for days, wasting everybody’s time and money. I don’t like this, and I think it needs to change.
I’ve tried sending out personal emails to other people as well, both after reading Seth’s post and before. Half the time, I didn’t even get a reply. Now that’s just rude.