in the saddle hand written notes

IN THE SADDLE: Do hand-written letters still have a place in the digital era?

Joshua Nuttall contributes to a regular column on our blog where he talks about his cycling exploits and what goes on inside his head while he’s IN THE SADDLE.

Growing up at prep school, we were “forced” to write letters to on a weekly basis. We even had handwriting competitions! Must have been something to do with growing up in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape. I wonder if they still write letters by hand in that little town?

I can distinctly remember the letter writing sessions; we would have an hour every Tuesday (often the last school period) where my mind was already thinking about sports practice and getting out of the classroom! Needless to say, letter writing was a bit tedious, except after my birthday when I cleverly used this time to get my thank you letters done!

Today we find ourselves in a digital world and it’s ever growing! Any guesses as to how many people use social media? One of the reports that I read, suggest that there were 2.46 million users of social media in 2017. Shucks, that’s a lot of people walking round communicating through their phones with others…

In my teen years, my grandfather stressed the importance of a hand-written letter, whether it be a letter to share news, to wish someone well, or to say thank you. I didn’t agree with him then as an email was far easier and in my mind and made a lot more sense. It didn’t waste paper and got delivered a whole lot faster.

Looking back on this, I definitely missed the point that he was trying to convey… the arrogance of youth or something along those lines. A written letter carries personal message that an email doesn’t fully incorporate.

Yes, the digital space is certainly expanding and the amount of time we spend with computers/cell phones is growing. However, hand-written letters DEFINITELY still have their place – maybe now more than ever because they are so rare.

So next time you need to say thank you to someone, challenge yourself to put it in a card or a letter. Maybe, just maybe, there was method behind the madness of getting us to write letters every week while we were growing up!