Symmetry Sussing: The Long Lost Art of Letter Writing

 Paul McCartney writing letters - Lynda McCartney A Life in Photos  Rizzoli

Paul McCartney writing letters - Lynda McCartney A Life in Photos Rizzoli

Privacy, Authenticity, and a Healthy Disregard for Being ‘Liked'

Handwriting on paper or postcard provides substance for posterity in a digitally saturated age where one false click can delete your love ‘letters’ forever.

Handwriting on paper or postcards provides substance for posterity in this digitally saturated age of fried out eyeballs, repetitive scrolling headaches, and scattered data.  Relationships hastily conducted in the language of emoji, passion snap-chatted, significant moments passing via text... and then one false click that can delete your love letters forever. 

On first glance letter or postcard writing may seem antiquated and quaint, but it is in fact both a tactile and resilient means of significant emotional connection.  And who doesn't keep handwritten correspondence?

Far more than nostalgic indulgence, sending a letter readdresses the way people communicate in a digitally saturated age, reinvigorating our experience of one-to-one communication: the prestige of being on the sole receiving end of someones efforts (as opposed to being one of any number of number of ‘friends’ and ‘followers’).  Could this revive the awareness and desire for more actual human connection?  

Love Spreads.

So when social media is giving you a Wah Wah, and you don’t even know or like half of the people you’re ‘talking’ to, reclaim some panache and send someone a card.

In testament to my theory that one never discards a handwritten letter, (the usual exception to the rule quite rightly being in passion-drenched-tear-soaked-deliberated-destruction) much collated correspondence exists from cultural and literary greats of the past. 

 Here are three of the best:

Door Wide Open. A Beat Love Affair in Letters. 1957-1958 

Jack Kerouac & Joyce Johnson.

Johnson and Kerouac were introduced by Allen Ginsberg in Greenwich Village nine months before the release of On the Road, and their correspondence travels with Kerouac’s impending fame. 

The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh. Edited By Charlotte Mosley

Both writers were known for their caustic tongues and turns of phrase we no longer use and which have yet to be ironically revived. Any modern writer will no doubt find comfort in the tribulations these two experienced writing, editing, publishing, selling, and ultimately reading stinking reviews of their work.

The John Lennon Letters. Edited by Hunter Davies

Almost 300 letters and postcards are featured in this compilation, from Lennon's correspondence to shopping and to-do lists. In the introduction Yoko Ono Lennon writes; 'In an age when most of us are getting more and more into arm's length communications, it's a nice idea to send a piece of his thought's expressed in his own handwriting to you and the universe.'


Privacy, Authenticity, and a Healthy Disregard for Being ‘Liked' - leave more than just a digital footprint.


Sam Smith

This article first appeared at Arianna Huffington's Thrive Global