Art of letter writing ‘dying out among over-50s’ as people use email and texts


The art of letter writing is dying out even among older adults as people use email and text messages instead, research suggests.


The Telegraph reports that less than half of 50-year-olds now write personal letters by hand, compared to more than seven in ten 70-year-olds, a survey for Saga found.

The group said that modern alternatives, including email and text message, were a poor substitute for a “time-considered thoughtful letter”. It also warned that future biographies may not be comprehensive because electronic messages are more easily lost or destroyed than the collections of paper letters that authors have traditionally relied on.

The survey questioned more than 11,000 over-50s. It found that while 47 per cent of 50-year-olds and 72 per cent of 70-year-olds wrote letters by hand, only 21 per cent of respondents did not value a handwritten postal letter more than a typed letter or email.

About 45 per cent of over-50s said that writing and receiving personal letters was more “emotionally fulfilling” then sending and receiving emails, while 19 per cent disagreed. Emma Soames, the editor-at-large of Saga magazine, said: “Letters are valuable because a great deal of personal thought goes into writing them. And they can be financially rewarding with considerable value to archivists, historians and at auction. “Emails might be good at getting news out quickly but they are not a simple out-and-out substitute for a time-considered thoughtful letter. I mourn its passing.”

In a separate survey, the group found that 62 per cent of respondents would prefer to receive a love letter by post rather than by email, which was favoured by seven per cent, or by text message, preferred by three per cent.

A third of respondents said they had kept handwritten love letters from their past. “Some of our greatest literary works have been letters,” Miss Soames said. “Would Napoleon’s to Josephine have been so poignant had they been emails, and would they have survived at all? A love letter from Napoleon to his wife Josephine, December 29, 1795: “I awake all filled with you. Your image and the intoxicating pleasures of last night, allow my senses no rest. Sweet and matchless Josephine, how strangely you work upon my heart. “Are you angry with me? Are you unhappy? Are you upset? “My soul is broken with grief and my love for you forbids repose. But how can I rest any more, when I yield to the feeling that masters my inmost self, when I quaff from your lips and from your heart a scorching flame? “Yes! One night has taught me how far your portrait falls short of yourself! “You start at midday: in three hours I shall see you again. “Till then, a thousand kisses, mio dolce amor! but give me none back for they set my blood on fire.”

(Article source: The Telegraph)

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