Here’s the thing: I am 20 years old with friends spread across the country, and although technology now makes everyone’s daily life available for all to see, the quality of the communication seems to be at an all-time low.
Throughout the last few years in particular, I’ve witnessed the quality of face-to-face interaction decline, simply because we are increasingly distracted by a screen in front of us.
We have developed toxic habits of obsessively checking different social media feeds, which gives us a sense of community and even feeds an egotistical side of self-worth. Yet, ironically these tendencies to be attached to always seeing what others are doing in the virtual world keeps us from making genuine connections in the physical world.
How many cringe-worthy times have you seen a couple or group of friends out at dinner, eyes glued to the screen in front of them, only bothering to come up for air every now and then to add to the conversation? I’ve personally seen it one too many times. If I could jump back a few generations so I might go on a date where the guy talked to me instead of just taking a Snapchat of his food, I would.
Growing up in a generation that experienced the full swing from flip phones and AIM messenger to being naked without an iPhone in pocket and lost without something good to post on Instagram or Snapchat really made me think about how I want to communicate with the ones I love. It has become important to me to be completely present when I’m spending time with others, which means the iPhone is out of sight.
This step alone felt completely liberating, and I love the precious time I get to spend away from an overload of personal information on others’ lives. I found myself becoming more and more old-fashioned in the way I wanted to talk with others. Then I decided to take it to the next level and also change the way I communicate with my loved ones from far away. I decided to further cut my iPhone out of the picture and start writing cards. You know, like the thank you cards your mother always used to make you write after Christmas. Except now no one is forcing me to write these cards, and I no longer need a special occasion to be writing them.
Writing cards to friends has become something I love and genuinely look forward to on a weekly basis. No matter how crazy that might sound, it’s true. I saw a much deeper appreciation from my loved ones when they received a card than I had ever seen over any virtual gesture. One friend of mine hangs the cards on her wall; another calls me every time he receives them and we get to catch up on life.
With how rare it is to receive cards these days, it brings in a whole different level of appreciation when you do actually receive one. It shows you how much that person values their relationship with you. After all, they took the time to carefully pick out a card, even to buy a beautiful stamp for the envelope. In fact, some of them even write cards back now. There’s something about actually having to write words down on paper that makes you think harder about what you’re going to say than if you were to text it. It’s not a fast-paced finger dance recital that your hands are used to typing out on a touch screen device. It’s genuinely thought-out sentences about your life and how much you appreciate this person being in it.
Even more than that, it has a positive effect on your own well being. It takes you out of your own ego-based mind and forces you to slow down and reflect about how grateful you should be to even have friends and family to be writing to in the first place. Trust me, it will surprise you the amount of time and feelings you go through just to craft one regular sized card.
With the increasing expansion of technology, I believe it’s important that we don’t abandon traditional habits that hold authentic beauty within them, such as letter writing.
Trader Joe’s offers cards for all the occasions you could think of for just a dollar each, and I promise that you will not regret picking up a bunch. Sure, it takes more time to write out a letter than to send a quick text. However, if you have enough time to check Instagram and Facebook all day long, you can afford the time it takes to write out a letter with words from the heart.
Maybe it’s old-fashioned, but keeping up relationships through cards and letters as opposed to texting and Instagram has been the best switch I’ve ever made.
Author: Esther Fiore
Apprentice Editor: Elly Woods / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Image: Carli Jean/Unsplash