Over the holiday I was in NY and DC visiting family and spending time with grandchildren and nephews aged 6-14. All of them, (except the six year old, he’s only playing games on the iPhone) are using the iPhone to text, telephone, play games, and take photos. The kids, like their parents, were constantly looking at their phones in restaurants, the cinema, crossing the street, at breakfast, and basically everywhere.
That scene was played out again at the Atlanta airport while I was having lunch waiting for a connection to Asheville. I sat next to a mother and daughter who were constantly looking at their phones in between bites of burgers and fries and only occasionally did they look up to talk to one another.
After lunch, I headed to the waiting area to read my book – a real paperback book. Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks, carried me back to a small English village ravaged by the Plague in 1666. The contrast between the story of how people experienced one another back then, and how we experience each other now made think about love letters. Are baby boomers the last generation to write love letters? D0 young people still write them? Do they text them? Don’t those texts vanish? I wonder how people will document their life if it’s all digital? In the clouds?
As for me, I have tons of real letters written on various textures and colors of stationary with stamps from foreign countries on the envelopes. When I studied abroad in the 70’s and 80’s before computers and iPhones and Skype, I remember waiting anxiously for the mail every day hoping for letters from my parents, family and friends. And, of course, nothing was sweeter than the love letters I carefully unfolded night after night as I re-read them for confirmation and comfort.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my iPhone, but I love the act of sifting through my life looking and touching all the letters and photos. So, I ask, do people still write Love Letters? And if they do, what’s the format?