by Danika Lyle
Dear fellow persons of my generation,
In today’s society, we are swimming in options. We live in a world where restaurants, including Chipotle, Subway, and Pizza Studio, are built on the notion that you can choose your own way. When it comes to communication, things are no different. If you want to tell Stacey the latest gossip, you can DM her on Instagram or Twitter, text her, Facebook message her, email her, tweet her, call her, or, if you are desperate, start a Google Hangout.
As you can see, modern technology and social media has allowed us to be more connected than ever before. Communicating with people, whether they are across the country or in your neighborhood, has become so easy and accessible that the time, thought, and effort that once went into communication has been lost. The excitement and anticipation of receiving a note has diminished due to the over accessibility of messaging. I’m not suggesting that we as a society revert to communicating solely through paper and pen, but I do want to urge the people of my generation to do this one thing: write more letters. I believe that the experience of receiving a nicely written letter from a friend is one that everyone should have because it is a true sign of earnest friendship and care.
Thirty five weeks of my life have been spent in the wilderness, devoid of cell phones and exposure to electronic communication. That means two hundred and forty days of my life have been spent relying on paper mail as my link to the outside world. Throughout those 5,760 hours, I have grown attached to the practice of giving and receiving letters in order to genuinely and thoughtfully express my emotions, ideas, and opinions.
I’ve been going to camp in Alton, New Hampshire, for the last eight years of my life. There is a different kind of culture created in a place that lacks cell phones, laptops, and iPods – one that encourages not only being present with the people around you, but being intentional in all the ways you communicate with the people outside and inside camp. I’m talking about letters. At my camp, people write letters to each other for everything; encouragement during a hard time, confessing romantic feelings, or complimenting someone on their greatness. In the box under my bed, I have over a hundred notes from people at camp who took the time to tell me something nice I did, to seek me out, or to brighten my day. Whenever times are tough, I take out my box of letters and reread them because they are goofy, emotional, artistic, and motivational pieces by the people I’ve met, and are reminders of the amazing human connections we create. There is a true authenticity that letters emanate, and I think everyone deserves a handwritten message.
When I discovered that some of my friends from school had never been written a “just-’cause” letter, I took to the stationary section of my bookshelf and wrote them each a nice, long card. Some sent back thank-yous, and some texted back extremely grateful remarks. Whichever way they responded, it was clear that the letters had made them happy and appreciated.
So what are you waiting for? Get out a piece of paper and write someone about how you feel, how great he/she is, what you had for lunch, what your view on Adele’s new song is, or which political conspiracy theories you prefer.
Happy writing everyone,