When I went off to college, cell phones were called “car phones” and were the exclusive domain business elites. The Internet? That was called “Telnet,” with cryptic commands on a black or greenish screen. When I wanted to call home it was either collect or on a “long distance” account. It wasn’t cheap. They charged by the minute. College students quickly mastered the calculation of long-distance-minutes to beer-fund. Buying a stamp (29 cents) and writing a letter were the best bang for the buck. A letter also was more meaningful to receive.
I’m not going to wax on about the good old days, because I love and surround myself with technology. That said, the digital communication almost never has the same impact upon the recipient as does the hand-written word. It’s a matter of intent and sincerity. Writing on paper is slower. You have to think about the big picture of the communiqué, as well as actually spell. The writer has given the gift of time, and usually has shared a more intimate and sincere message than the majority of our digital exchanges. The result is a higher quality exchange and connection.
The proliferation of pocket computers (aka smartphones) attached to an almost magic global instant-delivery system is exacerbating, not satiating, our appetite for immediate communication and information consumption in super-sized proportions. The expense is down, the convenience is up, but the effect on quality is usually deleterious. Technology isn’t the enemy; it’s just become an obstacle. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Today challenge yourself to half as many interactions but with twice the depth as usual. Broadcast less, communicate more. This doesn’t mean you have to hand write a letter, though the recipient wouldn’t be ungrateful if you did.