If we go back just 10 or 15 years, pen pals were rife and many people still chose to write letters to long-distance friends or relatives. We rarely see this now. Even a phone call is considered by a lot of young people to be a barely tolerable necessity rather than a convenient way of contacting a friend. Many schools held pen pal schemes with children from other countries, putting their pupils in contact with someone and writing them letters in each other’s languages. It all seems rather idyllic and almost vintage now that over a decade has passed since it was popular.
This is not to say that nobody writes letters at all. Over one-quarter of children between the ages of 8 and 11 still take the time to write a letter; however, when they reach adolescence, life seems to take a faster pace and the art of letter writing seems to fade away. Could it be the pressures of school? In recent years there has been massive pressure on children to perform – especially at this age – in tests and exams. Writing letters could boost their reading and writing skills, but what use is this if they simply don’t have the time?
It goes without saying that social media plays a part in the equation. The point is that writing letters is slow; in fact, it is the slowest way of communicating (if the postal service has anything to do with it). Now that Twitter and Instagram are so ingrained into daily life, the thought of taking the time to write a letter barely crosses peoples’ minds.
Has letter writing been lost forever? Hopefully not. The recent trend in ‘vintage’ aesthetics could bring about a rise in popularity once again. There is even a national letter writing month and there are plenty of things we can do to make it easier to write. A padded lap tray from a stockist such as Personalisedlaptrays.co.uk can make all the difference when it comes to comfort.
With any luck, we have not seen a complete loss of this beautifully personalised way of communicating with someone. If we take the pressure off children at school and bring back the ability to take time and be patient, we could one day see it making a comeback.