- Talia Lakritz/Insider
- I’ve been sending and receiving handwritten letters during the coronavirus pandemic.
- While I love a good Zoom call, the personal touch of snail mail makes me feel more connected to people in my life.
- The extra effort that goes into writing and mailing a letter shows that you care.
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I’ve always been a letter person. I wrote to a pen pal for years in elementary and middle school. I save every birthday card and thank you note I receive, filling shoeboxes that have traveled with me across states and apartments. I even wrote my senior thesis in college about the letters American poet Elizabeth Bishop sent throughout her life.
When it became clear that social distancing measures would remain in place indefinitely, I decided to start sending more snail mail.
While I love a good Zoom call, handwritten notes have a personal touch that digital communication can’t recreate
For me, one of the hardest parts of social distancing is the prolonged physical separation. When I receive a letter from someone, I’m holding something that they’ve held. I notice the particular slant of their handwriting, the words they’ve crossed out, the color of the pen. It’s much more personal than a text and makes them feel a little closer.
Composing and mailing a letter also takes more effort than reaching someone digitally. I’m thankful for how easy texting, calling, and video chatting have become, allowing me to keep up with friends and family around the world. But because these forms of communication have become the norm, I always appreciate when someone indulges me by taking the extra time to sit and write a short note, procure an envelope and a stamp, and walk to their mailbox.
Snail mail is also an opportunity to share parts of my life that don’t make it onto social media
When I draft a letter, it’s a stream-of-consciousness type of writing that’s close to journaling. I don’t feel the need to plan out what I’m going to say. The stakes of writing to one person are much lower than posting on social media, where there’s always pressure to elicit a response from a bigger audience.
With snail mail, the medium itself is the most exciting part. It doesn’t matter what the content of the letter is – the act of sending or receiving one is the main draw for me. Plus, the recipients already know what’s going on in my life in a broader sense since we follow each other on various internet portals. So I fill my notes with whatever comes to mind, from humdrum details of the day’s events to random memories from our shared past. I find it a meditative, welcome break from the screens that dominate my days.
Letters don’t replace all digital forms of communication in my life. I still participate in group chats, attend Zoom parties, and text my partner throughout the day. But there’s nothing like holding a letter from someone you love in your hands.