It’s been such a long time since I wrote anyone a letter. Come to think of it, I actually can’t remember the last time anyone sent me an actual letter either. These days I don’t even get bills and bank statements in the mail. Anything that comes through my letterbox pretty much goes straight into the recycle bin!
It’s funny because we’re really not that far away from a time when the only way I would have been able to have any contact with friends overseas was through letters and the occasional expensive long-distance phone call. Now if I want to speak to someone on the other side of the world I just tap out an email, send them a text message, or Skype them. The utility of writing a letter is now referred to as a ‘lost art.’
I’ve got a few old letters that I’ve saved. They’re buried in a box in a friend’s loft in London. I’ve kept notes and a few handwritten cards too. I don’t think that’s particularly unusual, though I don’t think people keep old emails in the same way. I’ve kept some old emails, they’re archived like those old letters I’ve hung on to. I have one that Steve Wozniak sent to me back in 2000, and a few others from friends. My oldest one is from 1998, but I don’t know of anyone else who has an email that old.
Ironically while technology allows us to digitally save things, it’s far easier than we might think for digital items to become lost over time, or simply incompatible with newer technology. So it might be that those printed pictures of your younger years that are fading in a box somewhere, could outlast the ones you’re snapping today.
As for the lost art of letter writing, maybe there’s nothing we can do about that. It seems that we’ve swapped letters for “likes” and outsourced our memory to ‘the cloud.’ Maybe that’s the price of progress? Of course, these days there is a service that will hand write a letter for you, but doesn’t that kind of miss the point?
Stand where this picture was taken using Google Street View.