Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The Death of the Letter

Last month we posted a mini poll asking expats to tell us how they stay in touch with loved ones. This followed a recent blog post about expats prolific use of social media Social media a cure for loneliness? so we weren’t surprised to find that our thoughts were echoed in the results of the poll with the majority of you favouring Skype (26%) and Facebook (34%).

After including ‘letters’ as an option in our mini poll we spotted the tongue in cheek tweet from @culturebroker ‘wow, no one writes letters anymore’ which got us thinking, letters may not be a necessary form of communication in this digital world but does anyone still write them or for that matter hand write anything?

Technological advances since the advent of the telephone mean that we are now able to communicate instantaneously with people across the globe through a multitude of channels. So with Granny on Skype and your Great Aunty on email handwriting letters can seem anachronistic. Whether or not the written word still holds value seems like the perfect question to pose to the expat blogger community who all regularly commit thoughts to blog but does anyone still keep a diary? In a world where we don’t have to wait anymore to receive replies is there still a place for handwritten letters?

Looking in to this we came across an article on the BBC website about the Slow Death of Handwriting. Apparently the written word is becoming a rare commodity with the exceptions of a diligent few who mail out Christmas cards whilst the rest of us only put pen to paper to scribble notes to ourselves about collecting the kids from swimming practice.

It seems however that despite the predictions of the death of the written word it is something we still hold it dear. What house doesn’t contain a drawer or box somewhere filled with postcards from friends, love notes crumpled from re reading and those letters from that French penpal you had when you were 15?

So whilst we certainly won’t be relinquishing instant communication for a message in a bottle perhaps as expats we should look to set an example and write a diary entry as well as a blog now and then and if we get the time, post a letter, because nothing quite beats receiving one that isn’t another bill.


  1. I love writing letters and it's fun to receive them as well. In fact, there are many people I would love to write letters to but most of my friends are now scattered all over the world so it would take a long time, be expensive or the letter may never reach them.

  2. We agree receiving letters is so much more fun than getting an email but not very practical for instant global communication!

  3. We write letters sporadically ... but often do postcards ... a win/win for everyone. It IS so fun to receive and encourages our friends from back home to reciprocate!

    I also keep a handwritten journal ... there just is too much going on in my head that CANNOT be blogged publicly about!

  4. We couldn't agree more- apparently the blog is the new diary but surely not everything is suitable for public consumption! Diary's and postcards also make great tangible keepsakes to look back on.

  5. Being an expat abroad, email and the web has made life so much easier I can't imagine setting up home abraod without it.

  6. My children live in Germany and every month they receive a letter with their pocket money, even though they were born into an internet - email - SMS world they both enjoy getting post, especially my daughter who always replys with at least 15-20 lines, nothing can replace opening a letter from a loved one...


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