THE BLOG
11/20/2013 06:02 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

So Long, Pen Pal

When was the last time you used a pen or a pencil?

Some people believe that handwriting will become obsolete within a few generations. Even research shows that a typical adult seldom hand writes anything. With less people writing and sending out letters, it is certainly not hard to believe that the USPS is cutting back service to curb substantial losses.

I am not here to diminish the many benefits technology has bought us: the ease in rapid communication to many and afar; the speed in processing data and transferring information; the small footprint for large amounts of data, and the list can go on, depending on who you talk to.

However, with the proliferation of technology, the importance of handwriting has diminished. Learning to hand write when I was young was one of the proudest moments of my life. I always wanted to hand write better than my classmates and my sister, but I don't think I ever succeeded. I certainly didn't in cursive writing. I proceeded to find myself a pen pal in Europe through the dial-up Internet, and we got to learn each other's favorite shows and books through a series of letters. I'm not sure how long that exchange lasted, as I don't think we had that many favorite things to share, but every day I would run out to the mailbox after school to check for a letter from my pen pal.

I remember in elementary school, and even in junior high, for every essay we wrote, we had to hand write drafts of our paper. That's right, hand write. Sometimes the drafts were 10 pages long, double-sided and doubled-spaced on lined paper (maybe even college-ruled). We could make fancy pen edits on them without relying on the now built-in spellcheck or the red, green or blue squiggly line in MS Word to remind us of our mistakes. Of course, to our dismay, our final typed essay only came out to three pages, single-spaced. If the future generations don't learn writing as an essential tool, then the many advancements around us, did not make things easier, it just made us truly reliant on technology.

When I write now, using pen and paper, for a letter or a postcard, I think about who I'm writing to. I dedicate a chunk of time in the day to sit down and think. No matter how far the person is, it makes them feel closer. It's different than writing an email, which takes much less time, and can be in the draft box for hours or days before being sent, while being interrupted by social media, news, and of course, other (more important?) work. Technology should make communication easier, not more impersonal. It really is a nice surprise to receive a letter from a friend, a card just because, a note to say hi or a postcard to document their journey. So why not brighten up someone's day, engage that left hemisphere of the brain, and meanwhile help out the postal service?

Writing or journaling can actually be good for you, as it is a good habit to reflect on the day and jot down your thoughts, which is shown to relieve stress. It is also not a bad way to rest your eyes from the 8-plus hours of staring at a screen. So disconnect for a few moments in the week and write down things that made you smile, made you cry, your accomplishments, the unforgettable moments, not for the "likes" or the "retweets" or the comments or the attention, but for you.

Don't let writing become obsolete. Don't let writing become just an art form. Next time you pick up a pen to sign that check, maybe consider writing something else sometime.