The Importance of the Written Word: Has Mobile Technology Destroyed Our Ability to Connect

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

In a day and age where breaking up via text is as acceptable as Urban Dictionary definitions, the desire to embrace the essential impact of the written word is becoming more important.? Today, we express emotion through emoticons and acronyms; rely on the smartphone over the pen and celebrate the value of connection with gifs and jpgs.? The evolution of mankind and its infatuation with mobile technology has damaged the roots of humanity and its yearning for connection.

As I completed a seven-page letter to Beth, who currently is about to enter her third year in the Peace Corps in Africa, I reflected back on two years of global letter writing, with each letter bringing a bigger smile than the last.? Don’t get me wrong, we both have WhatsApp and Facebook and know very well in the four weeks of transit, will age the relevance of the letter, but the connection is still felt along with the emotions built into each correspondence.

I want us to take a step back to a time when the pen was magical and the ability to express oneself in words changed lives.? The following excerpts are from letters written several years ago, that pitted the depths of human emotion and effectively changed lives.

Original Hand Written Letter Excerpts:

“No words over a telephone could communicate what I have to say so I’ll have to rely on written words, which seem to be more effective in our relationship.? The letters you sent me were beautiful and plentiful.? They surpassed any gift I have received yet.? The first one showed you are a true friend.? The birthday greeting followed by good advice and a boost to my ego was very much appreciated.? In a word, thanks.? I needed to hear some of the things you said.? Coming from you, they were even more meaningful to me.” Raquel

“Remember when I said that there are very few people in the world who I identify with and that you were one of them?? I honestly meant that and not just in the sense that you challenge me.? I am glad we met and happy to have you in my life (even if it is a little more dramatic now).? I hope you have the best birthday and that you get all you hope for.? Did I mention I also find you incredibly attractive (I know, I’m being high school)” – Lorie

“There are too many things in the world that suck and you are one of them.? It is sad to say, but it is true.? You suck because of the way you act.? Everything else about you is fine except when it comes to your attitude and your pride.? I’m sure you’ve heard this before, yeah you must have.?? Everyone on this floor has been making fun of the immature way you act.? You are a great person and fun to be with until I get to know you.? Don’t get me wrong.? If you want to be friends, it is okay by me, but I know it will never be the same.? I will never try to get close to you again.? One just fails in doing so.? You are so closed.? You are like an asymptote.? People get closer and closer to you, but they never reach you.? Why couldn’t you talk to me?” – Raquel

“I meant what I said this morning that no one has made me feel special in a long time.? You don’t know how much it means to me when you do the little things, like saying “Thanks for going out last night for dinner”.? People can buy all the gifts in the world, but it doesn’t even come close to how I feel when I know you think about me.” – Amy

“If you are reading this then I have already said good-bye.? I can’t be friends with someone I don’t trust.? I do love you still and I have for a long time.? I mean these words.? I have tried to stop.? I am writing this now because I cried all the way down here and I will cry all the way home.? Losing you is one of the hardest things I have had to do in a long time.? As the tears streak down my cheeks and the rain falls on the window, I think of all the memories.” – Kimberly

“Each day with you is a tender moment that fills my heart with joy and each passing thought of you still makes me believe – makes me believe in all the things that I could not comprehend before I met you.? I know that words never amount to much.? Words come and go and we always speak of our thoughts on a passing whim.? I cannot say anything or do anything that will change the way you feel, but what I feel is so strong – strong enough that each morning I awake and thank God I was given the chance to feel a love that no words, no song, no man or woman can ever describe.? I will hold the thought of you in my heart and soul – And I will carry your name with me forever.” – Hope

“I feel safety when I’m in your arms, like the entire army from hell couldn’t come close to me when I’m there.? The softness and passion in your kisses seem to lift me from the Earth, melting the rest of the world away and leaving only you and I to swirl around in the clouds of ecstasy.? The heat of your body next to mine, the feel of your hands on my skin and in my hair, the way your eyes sparkle when you say something clever… These are the things that caused me to drop my guard with you even though my situation basically doomed us from the beginning.? The way you seem to always be right, the way I don’t care when I’m wrong, how you laugh when you really think something is funny – and when you think it’s not.? These are some of the things that ultimately lead me to love you.? I don’t expect anything from you or out of “us”.? I don’t need you to love me back, I don’t need any promises or favors…All I need is for you to know how I feel.? Nothing more, nothing less.? Simple isn’t it?!?” – Summer

“Your letter was amazingly, awesomely, wonderfully great.? I was smiling and laughing out loud the entire time I read it.? The people around me thought I was crazy (oh no!? Now they know the truth about me.)? I got my Cosmopolitan magazine on my lap, some Juicy Fruit gum that Amanda gave me and the Walkman which I didn’t put on yet.? I wanted to write before we took off because I’m afraid I’ll get dizzy if I write while the plane is moving.? I want to tell you how great it is for me to have finally found some true, great friends like you and Rock.? I really appreciate all that you do for me.? I can’t begin to tell you how much better you always manage to make me feel.” – Stacey

“Once upon a time I gave my heart to you.? You kept it for a while.? Then you began to nurture it.? That part of my heart began to grow like the most beautiful, yet delicate flower.? There were not only fragrant petals, but thorns.? The thorns began to hurt.? You took that piece of my heart and began to play with it as a kitten does a ball of string.? I let you because I loved you.? You began to give me back my heart.? So I gave you a piece of my soul.? You will have that forever.? Now you choose to nurture neither my gifts, my heart nor my soul, but they are yours.? I have them to you unconditionally, selflessly and forever.? I love you for you.? For your spirit and for your love of life.” Kimberly

“It’s a very serious thing for me and I’m sorry to do this, but I need time.? I’m not asking for forever, just a couple of days.? I need it and I’m sorry for that, but I have to do this.? I need to not see you for a couple of days.? I need this.? You said that you knew your feelings for me for sure when you were not around me and I’m not saying that’s what I need because I know that I have strong feelings for you.? If I don’t take a couple of days or so from us, I feel that I will run from you and I don’t want to do that.” – Casey

As you can see from these excepts, the power of the written word can penetrate the soul with fulfillment or pierce the heart.? It can bring you to your highest point or lowest and everything in between.

That is one of the greatest losses with the onset of the mobile culture and one we cannot afford to lose.