Published on February 27, 2013 | by Abigail Maden

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The lost art of handwriting

Abigail Maden

Developments in technology are changing our traditions [Alistair Johnstone]

An close friend of mine moved to South Africa when we were ten years old and for years we kept in touch by writing letters to each other.

Granted, when we were younger the letters were a lot longer and much more frequent. I have no idea why, as I can not imagine what I had to tell her about my life when I was 12.

All I can suggest is that my new three day ‘relationship’ or Tammy Girl jacket must have been pretty damned important, considering we used to write to each other about twice a month.

By the time I moved to university our letters had taken a back seat – we barely kept in touch at all.

In fact, the last time that I received a letter from her I was 19, three years have now gone by without one handwritten letter from her.

But neither of us are really to blame, we simply have to look on each others Facebook pages or Twitter feeds to see if things have changed, so why bother taking the time to write?

I think that change in society and developments in technology can take most of the blame.

“Recently I broke the padlock of my pink Girl Tech diary marked ‘dad – DO NOT EVERY READ’ and I laughed until I cried.”

However I am not really complaining about said developments – a day without being able to stalk old friends on Facebook would be a nightmare.

Having said this I am still a firm believer that there is a time and a place for everything.

Sometimes a handwritten letter or a thank you card in the post is a necessity – never send something meaningful via a Facebook post or a Tweet.

Diary days

Another tradition that has been lost over time is keeping diaries. I always kept a diary – well, from being able to spell, till leaving secondary school.

And recently I broke the padlock of my pink Girl Tech diary marked ‘dad – DO NOT EVERY READ’ and I laughed until I cried about how dramatic – and a little insane – I was when I was a young teenager.

On August 11 2001 my diary entry began– “today was the best day of my life”– I read on in anticipation to see what I did that day which achieved such high status over family holidays and all of the great memories I have with friends.

“It is sad that neither myself nor my friends keep a diary anymore, I stopped recording these memories when I was around 16.”

 The entry concluded “I watched Liberty X switch on the Blackpool illuminations” and so this summer’s day was – apparently – the best day of my life.

So yeah, I will leave you all to judge for yourself just how exciting that means my childhood was…

It was so nice to read back over my diary, though it proved 11- year-old me was an absolute idiot who embarrassed herself on a daily basis, it was nice all the same.

It is sad that neither myself nor my friends keep a diary anymore, I stopped recording these memories when I was around 16.

Good old books

It seems many of the things I know and love are being replaced – books for example – I really wish Kindles and the like would just leave them alone.

If everyone bought a tablet to read from there would be no need for book shops or public libraries and a place without either of the above would be a sad world for a child to grow up in.

“I really wish Kindles and the like would just leave books alone.”

I adore old books and I recently bought a very old copy of one of my favorite books – Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland.

I found the book on Portobello market. Inside the front cover somebody had quoted the book and then written a message.

It read: “ ‘I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.’ – my daughter and friend, each and every day be the person that you want to be. Happy Birthday, may this book bring the fantasy and imagination into your life – that it brought to mine.  I love you” – the message was dated 1936.

Keeping Tradition

I fear that one day books may not exist and everything could become digital, like letters. I bet that the majority of people think of emails as letters.

“This year I will write to people, with a pen and I will end with “all of my love, write back, Abigail” definitely not “Kind Regards.”

As I said, I am not complaining about all developments in technology – I rely on it as much as the next person, when I leave my iPhone at home I feel like my right arm is missing – but things do seem to be advancing way too quickly. Can’t we just keep a little bit of tradition?

This year I make it my aim to write to people, with a pen – on paper and I will end the letter – “all of my love, write back, Abigail” definitely not “Kind Regards.”

And as for my family and friends – huge apologies to them all, but this year the only presents they will receive from me will be from my local bookshop – whether you like it or not.

I will handwrite a note in the front of them all, in the hope that one day, years from now someone will discover your gift and it will bring them the happiness that I found in my Alice in Wonderland book.

 

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