When I started writing letters I was often mocked for using an archaic method of communication. People couldn’t understand why I would want to sit and handwrite a message and then wait days or weeks for a reply, instead of simply whipping off an email and getting a response in minutes. I have thought about this quite a bit and I will try and explain what I see are the major differences with email and snail mail.
I will not down play the role of email or try to knock it usefulness, in fact I love email. I use email far more often than I do regular post. Email is an invaluable tool at the office, it is a great way to correspond quickly and efficiently. I prefer email to the phone even. The main benefits of email are that it is instant, free and easy. I can send a dozen email an hour. I can get replies and clarify a thought 3 to 4 times in the same amount of time it takes me to write one letter. Email is an excellent tool for productivity but with letter writing I am not trying to be productive.
Letter writing is like a nice meal that you sit and enjoy, email is a quick sandwich. I enjoy sitting down, relaxing and thinking about, not only what I will say but how I will say it, with what colour ink and on what paper. I write letters because I want to discuss something not because I have to. The goal of a letter is not solely to inform but to share.
Basically I do not see the two forms of communication as competing with one and another. I love both and see a use and purpose for each. I don’t know if I could ever really explain how good it feels to receive a letter or the pleasure I get out of sitting with a cup of coffee and replying to one but I hope I have done a decent job of explaining the difference.