This morning while waiting for a bus, I saw a man reach in his pocket, pull out a knife and slit open a stamped envelope. He carefully opened a three page, handwritten letter and slowly began to read. To avoid being any more a voyeur, I focused my attention elsewhere for the next twenty minutes until the bus arrived. As we boarded, I caught two words on the last page of the letter. Soon we were swallowed by the bus and deposited at our separate destinations.
The man, his knife and letter disappeared, but a thought remained and also a question, who still writes handwritten letters? The thought of a handwritten letter in a stamped envelope haunts me as I reflect on how smartphone usage, social media sites, and the endless barrage of emails has changed my thinking and in some regards my behavior (not to mention how my spelling and grammar have increasingly deteriorated).
Consider how much of emails, social media updates and smartphone use is not actionable (to use a David Allen GTD expression). Consider how to eliminate access data assault and focus on learning through connections the way many geniuses and polyglots learn. And unless these thoughts have actions they are but vain ponderings. So, beginning September 1, I plan to focus on the essence of handwritten letters: communication and connection. This means I will not access social media sites (apologies in advance if I have begun a conversation through Facebook or Twitter), and only post updates using my Tumblr and WordPress accounts (and maybe I’ll decide on one of those platforms as the best one for communication and connection). This is an experiment. I’m not retreating to a monastery hidden somewhere near Mount Athos (though, I must confess, I do find that an attractive idea). So we’ll see what happens. And maybe I’ll start writing handwritten letters.