I am not in same camp as those who bemoan the lost art of handwritten letters. (And I am certainly not getting into here the question of script, or cursive, versus print.) For the record I see nothing wrong with using a computer (or, for that matter, a typewriter [!]) to write personal letters—even condolence notes and thank-you notes. Nor do I decry those who use email for such “touchy” subjects as condolences, thank-yous, or congratulations. Surely the fact that hand-writing a note is more laborious than typing it makes typing it more conducive to writing a longer letter. And email is the correspondence of today. So don’t quail at putting your fingers on the keyboard. I am not the penmanship police!

But what I am riled about is those who don’t write letters at all.

Has letter-writing become a lost art? Do ppl—excuse me, “PEOPLE”—think texting is an acceptable form of “letter”-writing?

Now, I’m certainly not against ALL texting. It has its place and its uses. But it is not the appropriate medium for a chatty letter, a serious letter, a thank-you note, or a condolence note. (I am on the fence about whether it is appropriate for a letter of congratulations. I guess it would depend on what you were congratulating the person for—a minor accomplishment or a major one.)

So why do I opine that email is okay for such as thank-you, chatty letters, and such, but texting isn’t? Two reasons:

1 – Permanence. People sometimes want to save personal mail, whether it’s just a friendly letter or a thank-you or condolence note. Texts are ephemeral. Unlike emails or printed letters (snailmail), which can be archived, texts are anywhere from difficult to impossible to save.

2 – It is much more tempting to lapse into such abbreviations as “B4,” “U R,” “yr,” “ppl,” and the like in texts than it is in email or printed correspondence. And while I myself will write quick, informal notes with such abbreviations, I eschew them where they are inappropriate. And surely in such as a condolence note they are inappropriate. (“I ws sorry 2 rd that yr mother died”?!) But the temptation is strong if you are texting.

So before you write your next letter, consider the medium you plan to use. Snailmail or email? Yes. Texting? Depending on the purpose of the letter, maybe not.

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