Electronic Obsession

03 Jul

In this world of instant everything, we’ve come to rely on our computers and cell phones way too much. We send e-birthday cards, text messages instead of calling, and (yes this is true) e-mails to inform our boss that we’re quitting. I’ve seen people walking together texting, presumably, other people. They sit across the lunch or dinner table talking or texting on their phones.


What’s going on? Are we losing written and spoken communication? Once upon a time the only communication was word of mouth. Stories handed down from generation to generation. Then we discovered writing and our stories went out to more people. Then the printing press and stories reached, eventually, all those who wished to read them. Now, we’ve taken a stride backward and forward at the same time. Some now prefer to write in a cryptic e-language.

My point isn’t to color the internet and technology in a dark coat of paint. I love the internet for lots of things. Research, my Fitbit (that’s another blog), and keeping quick contact with friends.

Instead of texting, pick up the phone and call. You may be missing important information that you can’t get in a few symbols.

When you meet with friends, turn off your phone. Give your buddy the luxury and respect of your full attention.

Finally, send cards and letters instead of e-mails. Remember how you felt when you opened your mail box and found that someone took the time and effort to send you a paper and ink card?

I remember back a long time ago when my Dad was in Vietnam. I’d write to him and send him pictures. Letters took several weeks to make the journey across the Pacific. I lost my Dad in that war, but I still have his letters. They aren’t typed e-mails that I printed off. They aren’t e-cards that are stored on my hard drive. They are precious hand-written letters. Important treasures.

I love cards and letters. I have all the cards, and letters my husband and son have ever given me. And, yes, they take up a large tote and a couple of drawers.

I’m a letter lover. Think of all the history we’ve learned from letters send hundreds of years ago. Michelangelo’s letters, Washington’s letters, Jefferson’s letters and so many others. We not only gain an insight into history, but into the person writing. Letters are a treat people can read and re-read. And think of how special someone will feel when they know you took the time and effort to write them a letter.

Begin a one person crusade to revive the letter. Hand-written or typed, take the time to write a letter and give someone a lasting memory.

Do you have a special memory of a card or letter?



15 responses to “Electronic Obsession

  1. Red Tash

    July 3, 2012 at 6:39 AM

    I understand your sentiment, but I don’t cherish cards & letters anymore. I used to, very much. Over the past two decades, that attachment has waned. Along the way, I also learned the value of putting in time sharing experiences with loved ones. I lost my father when I was barely into my teens, and now I am the mother of four pushing 40. I know that anything can happen, at any moment, so I try and fill our lives with memories so that they never doubt how much they were loved. Will they soak it in? Will they be filled with wisdom at the memory of Mom’s corny stories? Maybe, maybe not. God knows I hope my actual professional writing speaks to them directly, someday when I’m gone. And even if it doesn’t, I’m not sure a hand-penned letter would be more valuable than a photograph of the six of us on vacation together.

    As for distant friends and family, I’ve had them slip through town to go shopping or visit others without calling or texting or even meeting me for plans made. I also used to get a yearly communication reeking of smoke and filled with complaints from my elderly aunt. So depressing. I pitied her, but can’t say I miss her letters. The friends & family who do keep in touch with, I do so electronically. It is one thing to say “Thanks for sending my son this birthday gift,” it’s another to send an actual video of him opening the gift, enjoying it, and exclaiming “Thank you, Uncle Gary!” I know that means a lot.

    FaceTime is a remarkable innovation. It allows friends and relatives to interact with my children from a very young age. My 15 mo. old loves it! It might not be a letter, but it is an experience.

    I’ll always cherish the handful of notes my father wrote to my mother and me, but truth be known, I wish I had them digitized so they wouldn’t potentially be lost to fire, flood, being misplaced.

    Having said all that, if I knew that letters were important to someone, I’d be thrilled to write him/her one. I just don’t value them that same way anymore.

    • Peggy Staggs

      July 3, 2012 at 8:53 AM

      We all communicate differently. I’m glad you’re lucky to have your family near. Our son is in the Army and, right now, he lives in Columbus, GA. I know how important those little bits from home can be to him. We talk all the time, he sends pictures and all the rest. I didn’t realize how important my silly cards and letters were until I went to visit. I found all the cards and letters I’d written on his dresser. They were important enough to him to keep.

      • Red Tash

        July 3, 2012 at 8:57 AM

        Great example of why I would be willing to write a letter to someone that would value it. 😀 When my husband was in the Army, many years ago, we were high school friends. I know my letters meant a lot to him. I think he even kept them.

        Thanks for pointing that out.

        • Peggy Staggs

          July 3, 2012 at 11:49 AM

          Hi Red, I asked my son (who happens to be home with an injury) if he liked getting my letters and cards. He said he’d prefer not to hear from me at all, but if he had to he liked the cards and letters. He’s a beast.

          • Red Tash

            July 4, 2012 at 9:09 AM


  2. Janis McCurry

    July 3, 2012 at 7:09 AM

    Great points, both the blog and Red’s comments. I use written communication situationally. It depends on the reason for written communication and the person on the other end.

    • Peggy Staggs

      July 3, 2012 at 9:01 AM

      You put a lot of effort into a letter–not so much a card– and you want to know that the effort was appreciated.

  3. Liz Fredericks

    July 3, 2012 at 8:46 AM

    I like this blog very much Peg. Hmmm letters or cards that meant a great deal to me? I’d have to say I get both letters and cards from friends (technically they’re critique partners, but I think of them as friends first). These are often inspirational (and witty) and I have them available to review. I do so much with the computer and digital world that the details get lost. I agree about the importance of protecting significant documents by digitizing them and I do so, but also have special pictures and notes hung, framed and readily accessible.

    • Peggy Staggs

      July 3, 2012 at 9:17 AM

      I feel the same way about my critique partners ; ) You’ve seen my office…. There are so many memories squeezed on every shelf and plastered to every square inch of wall space. I love cards and letters. I’m going to start scanning every piece of paper into my computer so it is all protected forever or as long as we have computers.

  4. florence fois

    July 3, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Peggy, I come from a generation of letter writers. My mom and aunts wrote each week. Each Sunday she sat and wrote two letters. Each Wed she got the response from the previous week. It went on for decades and oh how I wish she had kept them. So precious are those letters and cards from her generation that some fool figured out hot to sell his granny’s old letters and diaries on ebay. Go figure. Now in order to have a piece of gentility and history you have to bid $4.99 plus shipping 🙂

  5. Peggy Staggs

    July 3, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    What a great tradition. I wish my family had done something like that. It would be great to have all those old letters and cards.

  6. Judi romaine

    July 3, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    I understand the sentiment and perhaps a sense of loss for something disappearing (ah, that human condition, loss, the one constant in life we can all count on and have to find a way to deal with as we are on the journey). I do have a favorite note. I found it in a cookbook of my mother’s. She’d jotted down a quite message to my younger sister before heading off to work for the night shift as a nurse: “Food’s in the refrigerator, lock the door when you go to bed and I’ll see you in the morning. Love, Mom.” Just that simple note brings my mom, now dead these 25 years, to life for me in memory in some ways more than she was when really here. I do need to add as well that I love what the web and electronics have provided us as we grow older – I am now more connected and having deeper conversations with people in Bangalore, India and my 50 year reunion friends, than I ever did with most people. What a discovery is possible to find human beings are all engaged in living similar lives with struggles and joys.

    • Peggy Staggs

      July 5, 2012 at 1:03 PM

      I agree that the internet is a wonderful tool and I too have found old friends. That said, I miss the days when on my birthday I got to open cards from friends and family. I’d put them on a shelf and look at them for weeks.

  7. maryvine

    July 4, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    I have some letters written by my mother and my grandmother. I asked for my grandmothers letters who I could help better understand just who she was.
    I found a saying on facebook that I’ve saved for my high school classroom wall. It says: Putting your phone away and paying attention to those talking to you? There’s an App for that, it’s called “RESPECT”

  8. Peggy Staggs

    July 5, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    I love the quote.
    You made my point. In twenty or thirty years will people still have all those e-mails sent from one to another? Probably not. And how much can we learn from the past in a sentence or two in said e-mail if it’s still around? We are losing our history to technology.


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