We were right. We really were. The day in class we talked about writing, the day we said that handwriting had more meaning. The actual substance, the tangible, the real, the concrete handwritten aspect of something changes everything. It changes the meaning; it somehow makes it so much more personal, so much more important and so much more engaging to read.
It is hard to explain, but everyone understands, how the same words, the exact same words can be amplified a hundredfold if written, rather than typed.
To read someone's thoughts in their own handwriting makes it unique and oddly personal. There is no universal font to hide behind, just your pen and your paper to express yourself with.
In a class reading, "HOW THE COMPUTER CHANGED MY WRITING", Steven Johnson wrote "...the machine seemed somehow inauthentic to me." I agree with him. Writing on a machine takes away that personal quality.
It is striking to me that it is somehow completely different, the two mediums. They are so similar in some aspects. They communicate and allow expression. But one allows true expressive powers over the other. The computer/word processor seems to allow the author to wear a mask when speaking. You can hear what he or she says, but CANNOT see what it says, or see how it feels.
Yes they both use words, there is thought, there is a communication, and yet, the words themselves are nowhere near similar.
My best friend in the world, Colin, and I write letters to each other now. We used to talk each day for hours during high school, during class, between classes, and every weekend. That all changed when this year rolled around. We now go to different schools and the amount we get to converse has plummeted. We started to communicate via Facebook and texting. This worked well for awhile, but the meaning and the quality of our talks were changing. It seemed much more generic and much less special. And besides, I don't particularly like technology. It has been very beneficial in many ways, but I still MUCH rather be with someone and talk to their face, see their expressions and feel their presence.
So one day I decided to try something new... well, actually old. I sat down and wrote a letter, a real letter. It contained four pages of thought, of substance, of love and concern. I wrote about all that had taken place, all I had been through, how I was feeling, and how much I missed him. I also asked tons and tons of questions for him to answer, in part because I really wanted to know, but also secretly because I wished he would write me a letter back.
He did. A week or so later I checked the mail and was more than excited to see a letter. It made my whole day just to see Colin's handwriting on that big blue envelope in my little mailbox. It put the biggest smile on my faceJ. I read his five-page letter to myself, twice. I smiled the whole time and literally laughed out loud.
The time, the thought, the love he put into that letter was more than priceless. While an email is nice and Facebook messages, like our earlier exchanges, were pleasant, it is NOWHERE near as special to me.
I treasure Colin's letters, like I treasure our friendship and the little time we spend together. Because he does write to me, I know he cares, really cares.
P.S. For all of you out there who don't think you have time to sit down and write a real letter, you are mistaken. Think quickly of how much time you spend on the phone texting, or writing emails. I guess I can only speak for myself, but I think you'd agree, that receiving one letter, every week, from a friend would trump fifty impersonal texts. Odds are that that letter is going to be a lot more special and personable than a text could ever be...