The Pen is Mightier Than the Pixel

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I love digital technology but utterly respect analogue. Even in terms of music, you can’t appreciate the contemporary without doffing your hat to delta blues.

Many moons ago, when I left my parents’ home, I moved to Dublin and shared an apartment with a good friend of mine. Neither of us were working full-time at that stage so I had a lot of time on my hands. I had always enjoyed writing, even the physical act of writing, so when I saw an advertisement for a pen-pal organisation based in Ireland, I thought I would give it a go to pass the time and keep me out of trouble!

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To make a long story short, I began letter writing to a girl in Croatia. At times our letters were very frequent and on other occasions, less so. A lot took place in our lives over the course of these years, from the simple act of changing jobs to the horrors of the Yugoslav Wars but still our envelopes went back and forth.

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At a particular point in time we both acquired internet access and home computers, so this allowed communication to be swift and practically instant. While I have always been more comfortable behind a camera than in front, we could now see each other via webcams and have proper, full conversations. Down pens please!

From that point on, our correspondence and our relationship quickened in pace. We decided we should meet met in person after those seven years, which we did, in the arrivals lounge of Dublin Airport and we’ve now been married for more than those seven!

Notwithstanding correction fluid, letters really only give you once chance. There’s no backspace or delete buttons; you cannot revise and edit easily. It’s a slower pace much like film photography versus digital. It can be an art in itself.

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I don’t adhere to the belief in graphology, but I certainly believe that handwriting demonstrates character, more than any chosen font on a PC possibly could. I spend most of every day in front of a laptop and I associate it very strongly to work. I don’t write letters anymore and the explosion of social media websites and applications means I hardly ever send an informal email anymore.

My handwriting has deteriorated to a level which was once only the preserve of family doctors. I ‘scribble’ notes where the aesthetic is less important than the content, as long as it is legible. When I do handwrite, it is really only on birthday or Christmas cards when I make a conscious effort to write carefully and neatly.

In an age when our posted mail has been reduced to advertising flyers, bills and tax forms, to receive a handwritten letter is more than a novelty. Emails are great for keeping in touch and for receiving speedy replies but it is always nice to appreciate those who have sat down with a pen and paper and spent time over their thoughts.

That said, I’ll always be happy with online comments here 😉

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