The beauty of old-school communication

During one of our recent all-hands Zoom calls, we took turns sharing new hobbies that we’ve pursued during the pandemic. It was revealing.

Activities varied widely, from growing vegetables in the backyard to taking up water color painting. Many of us are reading more and binge-watching Netflix. Our obsessions include the Tiger King and the “Outlander” books. Thanks to politics and the election aftermath, many of my colleagues seem to have developed an MSNBC addiction.

My new hobby is writing letters—by hand, on stationery, and mailing them. I am also sending lots of greeting cards—including birthday cards, get well cards, Halloween cards, and “Happy Fall, Y’all!” messages, serving as an homage to my Texas roots.

There is something rather comforting, and even intimate, about taking a pen in hand and saying “hi” to a friend or a loved one with whom you can no longer visit in-person. And the recipients seem rather grateful – and even excited – to find personal correspondence in mail boxes that are usually stuffed with grocery store mailings and pleas for year-end donations. A hand-addressed and written card really stands out in the mail, and receiving one is a special occasion in and of itself.

What’s more, the beauty of something handwritten in this digital age is manifold. Not only does it show that you care enough about the recipient to take the time to write them personally, but it connects the writer to a historical tradition of letters that is said to date back to 500 BC. And while one’s own personal letters may not rise to the level of poetry, the effort itself is satisfying because it transports us to a more analog age. As a writer, I truly enjoy the physical, tactile aspects of writing letters and cards, including making a special trip to a card shop to find just the right thing.

Maybe this sort of thing is easy and resonates with me because I am a copywriter. But try it anyway. The sentiments don’t need to be lengthy, and the prose doesn’t need to be perfect. But you’ll feel better about the world if you can make someone else’s day a little brighter. And, with any luck, recipients will reciprocate. Remember having pen pals when you were a kid? They’re coming back!