Thursday, 26 February 2009

Does anyone send handwritten letters anymore?

There's an interesting piece on BBC Newsonline today about the Slow Death of Handwriting. It claims that handwriting is becoming less common what with texting, emails and word processing, and that apart from Christmas cards and shopping lists we just don't write things out in longhand anymore.

Most children are still taught how to produce neat handwriting with weekly lessons on how to form letters starting at the beginning of primary school, but these lessons not seen as a priority for many teachers and are often left out of the weekly timetable. The marking scheme for SATs still includes marks for neat and legible handwriting. And whose children are not already adept at typing by the time they reach high school?

But who still writes letters? Well, my children write the occasional thank you note although it can hardly be called a letter, and I often send a postcard or note to friends rather than using the phone or email (I think it's more personal) but I can't remember the last time I actually wrote a proper letter.

I used to keep a stash of love letters from The Great Love of my Life (not my ex-husband...ahem) which I destroyed when I got married, but I used to take great pleasure from reading and rereading them and reminiscing about our time together. I can't imagine getting the same pleasure from keeping and reading love emails, or looking fondly at a love text.

This reminded me of a recent conversation with the Teenager-in-Waiting which happened when I received a letter through the post from a friend:

Teenager-in-waiting: What's that?
Me: A letter from Tony.
T-i-W: Why has he sent you a letter? Why didn't he use the 'phone?
Me: I'm not sure why he didn't use the phone but he had some news he wanted to share and I imagine he preferred sending it in a letter.
T-i-W: But why didn't he send you an email?
Me: He doesn't have a pc.
T-i-W: WHAT? Why not? Well, why didn't he send you a text?
Me: Well, it's quite a long letter as you can see, so it would have been too much to send by text....and anyway, he doesn't have a mobile phone.
T-i-W: WHAT?!!! No mobile phone, and no pc? How does he manage to live?

Apart from all the new technology that's available we have also got used to sending - and receiving - quick, convenient messages to people, and the thought of sitting down and writing out a letter seems like a lot of hard work sometimes.

So, is handwriting dying out? Do you still put pen to paper and write letters? And is the art of handwriting still important in this technological age?

Image from here


bevchen said...

I still write letters - mostly because I love receiving them.

I came here via Welsh Girl's blog by the way.

notSupermum said...

Hallo Bevchen und willkommen! Ok, I'll have to rest the german now, I'm exhausted...

Thanks for visiting, and pleased to hear that you still take the time to write letters.

Jane said...

I bought a set of notecards when I went to Portemeirion last week. I love receiving handwritten notes and prefer to write on paper than the computer but then I am ancient!!

see you there! said...

Yes! I write letters and postcards and notes and most often use a fountain pen. I'll bet that item would stump your TIW. LOL!

I am a mail junkie and have the mailman's delivery timed so I can rush right out and see what came. Unfortunately it is junk mail more often than not.


Anonymous said...

No, I don't write letters anymore, except when I don't have someone's email address, or they are not on Facebook! I do love writing though and I write a diary by hand because it's slower than typing it; I have longer to think about what I am writing and process my thoughts. It still looks like scribble though! I'm out of the habit now. My 5 year old loves learning to write but I wonder how much handwriting she will actually do it her lifetime. We certainly did a lot more.

notSupermum said...

Jane, I love buying notecards too. I think the choice of card also reveals a little bit about you to the recipient too.

Darla, I'm the same! I'm always the first to rush to the door to pick up the post. Even though they are usually bills and junk mail.

Rosie, I kept a journal for years and always enjoyed writing in them but now the blog seems to have taken over, which is a shame because I don't record the same things on here as I would in a journal.

Welsh Girl said...

My new year resolution was to write one letter a month just for the hell of it! This is on the basis that I love to get letters, so figure other people do to.....

In addition I always write proper thank you letters to people (never e mail or text!). This ends up as quite a lot of letters as I am staying with friends at least once a fortnight. I just wish I had nicer handwriting. Mine is a mess that a drunken spider would improve on.

Nicola said...

Hello! My friend K and I used to write each other long letters all the time until email, and then kids. But my mum still writes regularly. She doesn't have a pc and is too cost-conscious to call long distance. It is so lovely to receive her rambling scrawl and touch the paper that I know she has handled - feel the indentations she has made with the pen. So much nicer than a text or email - even tho the news is often over a week out of date. Wish I could say that I write back to her, but of course I don't. Shame on me.

notSupermum said...

Welsh Girl, I think that's a very nice touch to write letters to the people you have stayed with. What a lovely friend you are!

Nicola, those letters from your Mum must be treasures. What I wouldn't give to still have a handwritten letter from my lovely Mum.

Mervat said...

My daughter (11) loves the notecards she received from an overseas relative and used these as birthday invites. Also, my 6 year old absolutely loves to give me drawings on which he has loving written 'to mummy' and I now treasure these as he will probably just send only necessary SMS's in future, like his big brother!

La Belette Rouge said...

I just wrote a letter last week( the first one I have written by hand for a long time). It was weird. I actually typed it out first and then wrote it out.

Claire said...

You have reminded me... I actually need to write a letter to an old aunt of mine, its our only form of communication. Problem is I just don' t know what to write.

Lisa said...

I only write for myself- everything else is email- sad but true xx- where is your followers gadget- never mind, i will follow anyway xxx

notSupermum said...

Tessa - there's an email on it's way to you re the letter!

Mervat, children usually love nice stationery don't they? Even now I still look at stationery sets in shops but I know they will hardly ever get used.

La belette, I find it hard to write things out in longhand because if you make a mistake it looks awful. I can see why you typed it out first to avoid that but it makes for twice as much effort doesn't it?

notSupermum said...

Claire, maybe you should just write about what's happening with you and imagine it's a conversation with her? I'm sure she'll love to hear your news.

Lisa, welcome! I just checked out your fab blog - and I'm glad you remembered about the letter!

notSupermum said...

Lisa, sorry got your comment about the letter mixed up with Claire's....doh.

lunarossa said...

I used to write long letters to my friends all over the world. Emails have killed all this although I still like writing cards and short messages to people. My dad still writes to me and the children. He can't stand emails and even talking on the phone! So it is nice to receive mail from him every now and then. My daughter like writing short letters and messages to me (usually asking for something!) to my parents and her friends. I like postcards the most. I think I'm the only person left that still send s postcards when she goes somewhere...Have a nice weekend. Ciao. Antonella

Kayleigh said...

Love this post!

I have every love letter from every relationship starting w/my gradeschool sweetheart till the last one before my DH -- yes, I am a sentimental pack-rat, esepcially when it comes to personal writing.

And I adore the idea of handwritten letters, the time, care and thought that goes into them...even just the simple little notes.

But my handwriting is awful, atrocious even, always has been. Once I learned to type (late, I was 19) I have never looked back. I even typed & printed out the love letter to my husband for his recent B-day, tho I did physically inscribe the XXXX's and OOOO's below my name, lol.

Still kinda romantic, yes?

Anonymous said...

Handwriting is a dead language basically. IN the US, the kids are made to learn it in the third grade, but then by middle school, in sixth grade, they are urged onto a computer and never use handwriting again.

If you really want to get someone's attention these days, to express a kind sentiment, say a thank-you from the heart, or even to "stick it to'em"--A handwritten note sent snail mail is the sure way to get attention, not a text or email. Great, thoughtful and funny post, Jean.

Thanks for the encouragement these days...

Imogen Lamport said...

I send cards but not letters. My handwriting has deteriorated so much I can barely write a legible phone message.

I do keep emails and have printed some out to keep for future reference!

notSupermum said...

Karen, I think you're right - sending something handwritten adds that certain extra something doesn't it? It shows a bit of effort was put into it, and shows a human touch rather than a pc.

Btw, you have been very supportive of me in the past too. I'm so glad you are thinking of blogging again.

Imogen, hello and thanks for visiting. I'm seriously impressed that you keep emails! And the handwriting thing - I don't think it's important to be neat, but as I said before it shows that extra effort has gone into it.

Anonymous said...

I went through a phase of not writing letters, but a half term last year i went up to cheltenham to stay with a good friend and became friends with his best friend, and now we are pen pals because we both think its nice getting letters, plus it's good because you can take your time writting them, write them wherever and whenever you like as long as you have paper and a pen and then you can read back over it without your eyes starting to hurt from the glare of the screen!

i think everyone should have at least one pen pal. you connect on a better level that way as well then you would with email!