The changing face of friendship
I think that I am as ‘wired’, if not more ‘wired’ than anybody I know. But is that necessarily a good thing?
The Christmas season is fast approaching, and the Christmas greeting cards have started arriving at my home. The traditional English habit of writing (sorry, lets use the modern terminology … typing) a long letter about the family’s year, and then photocopying it for inclusion with all cards, persists. Often it is the only correspondence passing between family members during the entire year.
Then there are some of my friends. I hear more about what is going on in their lives from their blog than I do from phone calls, letters, emails or IM chats. I wonder if they consider how it makes their friends feel when they say ‘sorry I’m too busy to chat’ (or write) while at the same time they post extended spiels about their day to a blog.
I’ve been trying to remember the last time I received a real letter… you know the type… pages of chat, written by hand on thin ‘airmail’ paper so that the cost of postage is minimised - much treasured and kept forever. I have a large box full of such letters, but sadly the last that I received is a few years old now although the person who wrote it keeps in sporadic touch via email. A few years ago I was going to purchase a new box because the old one was so full…. a beautiful fancy chest to hold the letters I had received… but such correspondence stopped arriving – email was so much easier – so the chest purchased now holds DVDs – that is so sad.
I remember when I was in school we had a ‘pen pal club’ where we were able to pick a country and were then given the address of a correspondent in that country – I chose one of the Arab countries, and ended up corresponding for years with a young man over there – he was a Formula 1 fan and I still have his photograph taken while he was wearing his much loved red Holden jacket. Apparently such pen pal clubs no longer exist – well they no longer exist in the Australian public school system.
So, are we granting ourselves any real benefit by giving up on the traditional forms of contact in favor of the instantaneous gratification of email or IM? Tonight, I don’t think so. Maybe I’m just being sentimental but I miss the effort that traditional correspondence requires. The thought that somebody would make the effort to sit down and devote an hour or so to write to us alone is so very special. I know that I always spend hours working on a letter to my special friends, even if it is only to be sent by email – two line rapid responses have never been my forte – my email will sit there in draft, and will be edited, and re-edited, and re-edited before sending. I also have several elderly friends to whom I write by hand, using oversized letters, so that it can be read by their elderly eyes.
Is there somebody in your life that is special to you? Don’t restrict yourself to email or IM to stay in touch – its too instantaneous, and the love demonstrated by effort is missing. We all need to know that somebody gives a damn, and how better to prove that care than to write more than a short commentary.