jeffrey winke | the love letter is dead

The Love Letter is Dead

Love letters are not being written anymore. They’re not being lovingly folded, placed in an envelope, and sealed with a kiss. They are not being sent, read, and cherished.

There is no reason to anxiously wait for the mail carrier; no need for a length of satin ribbon, fat rubber band, or corded twine. Why? There is no stack of personal handwritten or typed letters, notes, or greeting cards to save. They no longer exist; they have become memories.

It feels wrong…incredibly wrong to not see romance enhanced through love letters mailed or surreptitiously delivered in the middle of the night to a beloved’s mailbox or front door.

Afterall, there is nothing better than receiving a handwritten letter filled with love and lust and to hold it in your hands knowing that the same paper was held by your lover. The personal connection is completed through the passion of writing, whether thoughtful, clumsy, or eloquent, it is pure and sincere and intended only for you. The intimacy is enhanced by the smell of the paper …. the imperfections  of the penmanship…. realizing that some words were written with the pen pressing harder than others …. seeing smeared ink where tears may have fallen … the evidence of false starts and hesitations while words were carefully chosen and thoughts crafted into prose.

It feels wrong. It feels incredibly wrong to see romance carried on through digital communication. Computers have deadened humanity. Today, we are left with digital communication via emails, texting, and FaceBook messages. The process is quick and communication is near instantaneous. Gone is the sense of thoughtfulness…the thinking part of thought-full-ness that the letter writer embraces and the love letter recipient experiences while reading, feeling, sensing, the meanings AND formulating a response.

The sense of almost real time, instant communication has deadened anticipation. With letters the writer waits in anticipation for a response to what has been written. Is the flutter of butterflies in the stomach more pronounced when a letter arrives then from the ding of a text alert?

There is a visual component a letter has that several lines in a text or an email does not have. Letters have the physical presence which e-versions don’t. A love letter can be written on a page from a notebook, scented stationery, or even on a sheet of business letterhead taken from the office. A message of love could come on the back of a notecard with supporting designs on the front that expand on the essence of the message. It could be bravely written on a postcard where others can read it. All these physical elements communicate. They can enhance the message and spark new meaning.

Digital communication feels temporary and impromptu, where a letter has a permanency—sentiments are expressed in words that are handwritten or typed on paper that can last longer in its physical form than the writer or the recipient will live.

Love engulfs the being. It stirs the soul and viscerally dominates the mind so that all thoughts are on the loved one. How can something that powerful and humanly base be entrusted to non-feeling electrons flying through cyber space?

It just seems wrong to send and receive messages of heartfelt yearning… longing… and desire to a smart phone via a text or in an email read on a laptop computer or a tablet.

Expressions of love deserve better. They are our essence. They need to be captured on paper to be relished, saved, and preserved. Hail the love letter!

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