Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A case for yellow line paper

Un mes, un deseo

Ladies and germs, the digital age is ruining true romance.

Forms of communication are much less intimate than they were for the generation that preceded us: we just rattle off whatever the hell we want, when we want via email, text, MySpace, blogs, etc., and just click the ‘send’ button – often recklessly and with little aforethought.

What we gain in convenience, I think we lose in intimacy.

I’m a writer by trade, and my ability to type several words a minute is a necessary skill. But I am of the old-school thought process that taking time to actually write things out on paper – particularly meaningful things – trumps typing any day.

I think sending very deep-seated, personal emails to loved ones should be limited, if not altogether ixnayed. Things get lost in translation, context is misappropriated and confusion is made even more profound….not to mention such forms of communication are often used as methods of cowardice from people who cant look others in the face. Next time you find yourself going nuts over email, consider actually driving to someone’s house to talk to them in person; if not, pick up the phone.

As for communications of unbridled love, writing a letter instead of an email signifies that you have taken the time and effort to pour your heart and emotions into a piece of paper instead of over the interminable information superhighway. Even a small note on a nightstand, written on a napkin, saying “I love you!” is far more likely to garner a smile than “from so-and-so@peckerhead.com; Subject: RE: I love you.”

If you pay close attention, you can see the fluctuations in handwriting that convey the emotion the author had when writing each word. Rushed heart? Cautious pragmatist? Empathetic? Apathetic? In certain occasions, I imagine, you can even see the dried-up teardrops on the page that let you know just how impactful writing the letter was.

The connection between you, the pen and the eyes of the recipient. Short of physical contact, how much more intimate can it get?

I’ve only written letters to women whom I truly, wholeheartedly care for. It means something for me to write page after page in handwriting which closely resembles a medical doctor off his Ritalin. Yellow line paper is my canvas of choice, because anything resembling the paper I wrote essays on in high school is not a good look.

My most valued possession is a letter my mother wrote me when I was about four years old and she and my father were going through a rough divorce/custody battle. I didn’t read it for the first time until I was in college and at a point emotionally where it was truly impactful.

So 25 years from now, if I wrote my son a similarly impassioned email that he just happened to save on his Crackberry, would it have a similar resounding emotional effect? I’m guessing not.

At least I hope not. It’d be a sad testament to the fact that the digital age has taken over shop.

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