“We are more than ever obsessed with individual identity, our personal brand, putting our stamp on the world. But we bow to the plain text of the smartphone, bland and unblotted. A WhatsApp message will never have the personality of a sibling’s spider-scribble. Digital communication can never match the intimacy of a handwritten letter. If you want to tell someone I love you, I miss you, I’m sorry, I’m thinking of you, do it by hand, sealed in an envelope. Embarrassed teenagers confessing to a crush now do it by Snapchat. A few seconds and the message vanishes. Blushes are spared, but so much else is lost.”. (Laura Freeman in The Daily Telegraph)
I can never forget the endless battles as a child between my parents and myself about thank-you letters, in particular: Grumble , grumble, grumble….why can’t I just phone them? I can’t think what to say……we are not going out until you have thanked Aunt Agatha…….those were the days of courtesy and received manners, and woe betide you if you didn’t write promptly. Nowadays, one can adopt the principle that those who send you emails get emails in return; and those people, diminishing in number, who typically still hand-write their thanks get hand-written letters. I think the latter are so nice, and seem somehow more heartfelt and genuine than a dashed-off email. They actually take little more time, and, as for actual content, well, this is an opportunity to charm and be a bit creative. For that you need more than simply the ability to do joined up handwriting.
Are parents still patiently insisting that their children say “please” and “thank-you” and write thank- you letters? Are they teaching consideration and courtesy? Some definitely are, and it is much appreciated. It is also Epicurean.