Essay on Letters vs. E-mail

1550 Words 7 Pages
Letters vs. E-mail: Communicating through Writing

My grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins live in Ireland leaving oceans and expensive air fare separating us. Through pictures, stories, letters, and phone calls I have come to know the history of my family, what brought my mother to this country, and what a life in Ireland is like. However, over time these forms of communication were not strong and consistent enough to enable me to build an emotional connection and relationship with specific members of my family. I mainly just heard my mother’s point of view and got to know my family through her experiences with them. That was before the invention of electronic mail, a faster, cheaper outlet for communication that
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If I wanted to send pictures in the mail it would cost more money, take more time to reach the destination, and even if I wrote “handle with care” or “do not bend” on the package it would end up damaged.

When e-mail emerged into the technology scene, I was hesitant at first. If there were problems with one of the oldest forms of written communication what was there to look forward too with using technology to write. Dennis Baron, author of “From Pencils to Pixels” states “The computer, the latest development in writing technology, promises, or threatens, to change literacy practices for better or worse depending on your point of view. For many of us the computer revolution came long ago, and it has left its mark on the way we do things and with words.” (36) I was threatened yet intrigued by the computer and any form of writing capabilities it supplied including e-mail. However, the difficulties and problems involved with communicating through letters had taken its toll and I was ready to experiment with the world of cyber space.

In “Conversion,” Wendy Lesser states “Why should I want to read more of this stuff especially on a barely legible computer screen? What was the good of a technological form that erased the boundary between intimate friends and total strangers, reducing everyone to a digital printout? Where was the handwriting in all this? Where was personal style?” (227) As I