A lot has been said of late about the insidious nature of social media on society. Ironically, the only way for people without a traditional media platform to utilise, the only way to get this message out is through social media. That tends to diminish the impact of what they are trying to say. While I can certainly see both sides of the coin in terms of the benefits and evils of social media, I think we can all agree it is here to stay.
Though just as the commoditisation of milk at $1 per litre has increased the demand for high quality, unpasteurised, unhomogenised milk, the proliferation of social media has increased the impact of the written word.
I received a postcard from my friend the other day which she wrote three years ago. It was written in France, during a time in her life which was quite difficult. I had spoken to her and written her a letter to say that all will be well in time, and quite forgotten about it until she gave me the postcard, which had been floating around her luggage since.
Written in a style that is so uniquely hers, in neat, tiny little script and with such an understated yet passionate tone – interspersed with french as her writing often is – I was struck by just how important the written word is.
And I’m not even talking about words that are typed and printed for distribution, I’m talking about pen and paper, ink and effort, love and commitment to putting something on the page straight from your heart.
In ancient roman times people began wearing wedding rings as they believed that there was a vein that ran directly from the third finger to the heart. And I like to think that similarly, when putting pen to paper, you are putting something of your heart into what you write.
It’s the handwriting itself, be it elegant and flowing or messy and indecipherable, the choice of words, the sentence structure, the greeting and the sign off that someone uses when writing to you that distinguish it as uniquely from them to you. There’s an intangible quality to something that is written by hand that is directly linked to the fact that it is so tangible.
I’ve kept important e-mails from people, but sooner or later they disappear. Yet I have letters written to me when I was a teenager that I will cherish forever. The smell and crinkle of the paper, the fact that those words are mine is what makes the written word so powerful.
So next time you want to say something important, if you can’t say it to someones face, in fact WHEN you can’t say it to someones face, write it down. Find some nice paper and a good pen, or scribble it on a scrap of tissue with your eye liner if you must, just write sit down. Put it in an envelope, attach a stamp, or sneak it into your friends handbag or pocket when they aren’t watching. See how much more it means than a post on their wall or an e-mail.
I’d love to hear from you if you decide to follow up on this, so please reply to my post if you do.