I’m a decade or so late with this, but want to cover it anyway, since it recently popped up in, you guessed it, an email conversation.
Your grandparents and maybe even your parents probably still do it from time to time, sending letters. Most often this’ll be for special occasions like birthdays. Letters sent for communication without a cause are way less common. Hell, I’m even willing to go as far as to say that you’d be pretty hard pressed to find anyone with a pen-pal across the country, or in a different part of the world even. Writing letters is a thing of the past, and I’m ready to accept that. But will there be a replacement?
Fuck, I feel so old, writing this like I’m some sort of grandpa back in the 00’s ranting about the youth. Back then I’d have said email would easily replace letters, but nowadays I’m not so sure anymore. With the (in my opinion largely negative) influence of social media, less and less people email with each other on a regular basis. Almost all communication these days is either in group chats or one-on-one instant message conversations. It’s easy to stay in touch, but that’s not how reality is playing its cards, sadly. IM in whatever shape or form in getting way impersonal. It’s usually short conversations that die out and disappear without ever really closing simply because one party ran out of things to say.
This is where email comes in. You know how letters were viewed a couple of years ago? “Old, obsolete, thing of the past.” Email is starting to become kind of like that, at least for communicating with people on a personal level. If we take business and spam out of the equation, I’m willing to say that emails are the letters of today. It’s more slowly paced, often spawns larger conversations, and is definitely more romantic than just a few words over IM. Not to mention how it’s a pretty damn accessible protocol supported by anything internet worth its salt.
It’s a shame people haven’t stuck with it. Then again, now I get to feel all hipster-y and retro for still using email as my main mode of message transport. (Wonder if some groups of hipsters still write letters?)