Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Is the Love Letter doomed in our digital age?

The National Trust seems to think that it might be as we’re swapping the old fashioned pen and paper for very short ‘I luv u’ messages instead. Now that would be a shame. Admittedly, it’s over 20 years since I had a proper love letter. In fact, I got three in three days from the same handsome boy I was dating at the time (Mark Hickson, where are you? All is forgiven!) but then we didn’t have mobile phones or computers and I was also sharing a landline with about 30 other people in a Hall of Residence in deepest New Cross. And clearly he was thinking about me. A lot. I still have those letters and they’re a lovely thing to keep.

And it got me wondering if text messages or an email means as much as those letters mean to me or if they’re seen as throwaway and disposable as much of the rest of our modern lives seem to be? And can we ‘keep’ and ‘treasure’ emails and texts in the same way that I have kept a bunch of old letters from friends, family and loved ones? I wonder if services like Treasuremytext are the answer?

The National Trust has surveyed 2,500 of our Great British public and come up with some interesting factoids.

Andrew McLaughlin, head of communications at The National Trust, says, "In today's age of easy and instant communication, written letters and carefully crafted poems aren't as important as they once were, but if anything that makes genuine love letters more valuable rather than less.

In comparison, text messages and emails just don't cut it, I'm afraid. Our survey shows that people would still love to receive carefully written letters or poems, but just don't make time to write them.

Fortunately, while we may have lost practice, we haven't forgotten the letters and poems which once made Britain one of the most romantic countries in the world. Among the thousands of writings we have on display at properties up and down the country, the love letters are always among the most popular and say far more about somebody's life than almost anything else."

What do you think?