Social media, texting, maybe even e-mailing. They all suck. No one calls each other anymore. No one writes to one another.
This might sound strange coming from someone who despises talking on the phone, but I think that’s part of the problem. I hate talking on the phone because talking on the phone isn’t what I’m used to. Texting is my fuzzy comfort blanket. I need it. But I hate that I need it.
We go for what’s easy nowadays. We go for what’s efficient. If it’s 3 a.m. and you’re tired but want to let someone know you’re thinking of them, it’s “easier” to just send a quick text. It takes two seconds to send an “I miss you” text, which will be almost instantaneously received and (hopefully) responded to. It takes two minutes to make an “I miss you” phone call, which are practically extinct. Two seconds vs. two minutes: those extra 118 seconds MATTER, damn it.
But texting can feel so impersonal at times. Seeing someone’s words light up your cell screen and hearing someone’s voice in your ear is kind of like the difference between smelling a cake baking and getting to eat said cake fresh out of the oven. Sure, there’s that brief moment of excitement when you see that someone special has texted you, but when compared to actually talking to that person, it’s not even comparable.
And what about those text messages or e-mails that are sent out into the information superhighway and get no response? Good God, this is the worst. This is the worst thing that happens to us. There are people who don’t even have clean water and we act like we’re going to die because some dude didn’t respond to a text.
We’re impatient and irrational. Can you imagine how we would be in a time when we had to wait weeks, months, years (!!!), for a response? I feel like we’d be a lot more appreciative of one another’s words. Well, maybe not appreciative…. but something can definitely be said about the delayed gratification associated with waiting for a letter to arrive. These days, we’re ready to walk into the ocean with heavy rocks in our pockets if a text message isn’t responded to within three minutes.
Speaking of letters, are love letters even a thing anymore?
I remember when I was about 14 years old, I was snooping around my mom’s dresser and I found this little wooden box, full of random items that she’d saved throughout the years. Inside, among other things, was a napkin from her senior prom, some multi-colored really long cigarettes that I wasn’t quite sure about, and a folded up letter my dad had written to her on a brown Food Lion paper bag. I knew I probably shouldn’t have read this letter, but I did it anyway because I’ve always been nosy as fuck. My dad used to work at Food Lion and I’m guessing he wrote it to her during one of his breaks. I can’t remember exactly what it said, but I do remember reading some very inappropriate things about tongues and hands that no one ever wants to read their parent say. (Barf.) (Also, sorry for going through your shit, Mom.)
The modern day equivalent of this paper bag letter would be sending a “Hey, I wanna [blank] your [blank] tonight” text message. The execution feels lazy and insincere when compared to a good old-fashioned love letter.
Maybe I’m just equating amount of effort with amount of value and that’s not really fair if you have the “it’s the thought that counts” kind of mentality. Does it really make a difference if someone is thinking “Hey, I’ll write a lil love note to her” or “Hey, I think I’ll text him this totes cayute emoji”?
Maybe I romanticize too much.
PJ Harvey wrote a song called “The Letter,” where she sings, “It turns me on to imagine your blue eyes on my words.” Damn. Imagining someone reading what you wrote to him or her. Imagining them laughing or frowning or shaking their head or crying. Does that not turn you on, too?
I like to picture someone writing me a letter. I think about some imaginary dude hunched over a desk, holding a ballpoint pen in his callused hand, trying to come up with the perfect words to tell me what he wants to tell me. Sometimes he writes frantically with excitement. Other times, carefully and deliberate. I think about James McAvoy’s character in Atonement, sitting in front of a typewriter, working so damn hard to communicate his thoughts/desires/whatevers to Kiera Knightley’s character. I think about these things and I feel…annoyed.
I feel annoyed because I don’t think about some imaginary dude holding his iPhone while haphazardly texting me using as few words as possible. I feel annoyed because I want it to be 1935 and I want James McAvoy to be typing me a fucking letter on his fucking typewriter.
Am I being too critical of this generation of young people just trying to get with each other via the only means we know how? Communication is communication I guess, no matter the medium. And chances are, even if I did receive a five-page letter, full of all the romance and charm I dream about, I’d wonder what kind of weirdo wouldn’t just type it all up in a quick e-mail?