Helen (heleninwales) wrote,

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Sometimes email is just too fast

An LJ friend has just posted that he's thinking of taking up writing letters again in order to keep in touch with an elderly friend who isn't online. I started this as a comment to his post, but it grew rather too long, so I thought I'd make it a post of my own.

There are people who dismiss online friendships and seem to think that only face-to-face interaction is meaningful. But those of us old enough to have once had a regular letter writing habit know that online is just the modern version of pen pals or keeping in touch with old friends via letter.

I have actually been thinking of trying to reinstate a letter writing correspondence with an old university friend. Though she has email, she never took to the online stuff and we've slipped down to just exchanging notes at Christmas time. As she lives in New York, we are unable to meet and time zones (not to mention how much trans-Atlantic phone calls used to cost, plus my phonophobia) made phone conversations into rare occurrences.

Email is fine for work or discussing things like writing or other shared interests, especially if there are a few of you. But -- and this might seem a bit odd -- to me it feels too fast for a friendly exchange of information one-to-one. Facebook and Twitter work because you keep updating little snippets, but if you write a lengthy screed in an email and get a response later the same day, what do you do? Do you write a lengthy screed back (much too time-consuming!), or wait for a week? Posting times enforced a nice slow pace to the exchange in the past. A letter very week or so felt about right, but email is expected to be instant, which doesn't suit the old style of penal pen pal relationship. Perhaps it's about to rediscover old skills and, while I'm at it, I could give my fountain pens a bit of exercise. :)

[Edited to correct typo!]

[Cross-posted from Dreamwidth by way of a backup http://heleninwales.dreamwidth.org/74625.html. If you want to leave a comment, please use whichever site you find most convenient. Comments so far: comment count unavailable.]

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