Tell Them You Love Them


Riley Howard

Hand written message on my lunch bag from my mom

Riley Howard, Writer and Reporter


Hand written message on my lunch bag from my mom (Riley Howard)

   Relationships in the age of rapidly developing technology can create a lot of anxiety. From “mixed signals” to “ghosting”, it can be hard to express your emotions effectively. Often “old school” habits, in particular handwritten letters, can magnify your relationships (platonic or romantic) and create stronger connections. It’s not nearly as difficult as you might think, and by the end of this article, you’ll see why.

     Before we dive into the importance of handwritten letters, allow for a brief history lesson dating back to 500 B.C. Atossa, a Persian Queen, is credited with writing the first handwritten letter. However, some scholars maintain the first letter should be credited to Homer, author of “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey. No matter who wrote the first letter, the evolution and impact it created centuries later could have never been predicted.  

    Now think; when was the last time you received a hand-addressed, handwritten letter that wasn’t a birthday card? If you’re like most people, the answer is, “I have no clue.” That’s because handwritten letters are exceedingly rare in the age of technology. According to the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission, the average American received only 10 pieces of personal mail in 2019. It’s simply too time-consuming to write a letter today when you can send a text or an email. But this rarity is why handwritten letters feel so valuable. In addition, Emails and texts disappear among the hundreds we receive each week. A box of personalized notes and letters can be treasured for years. Writing letters allows us to simply slow down. Life can be so busy. We are constantly stimulated by outside sources, and writing letters allows a focus that is not parallel with quick text messages or Snapchat videos. The personal and sentimental way letters enable us to communicate can be therapeutic for some. We allow ourselves the time to really decide what we want to say and how we want to say it. It allows us to reflect on our time and our feelings and express these emotions in an organized way. “Doing something nice for someone else makes you happy, especially if you know they’ll really like it,” says Deborah Smith, a positive psychologist, and mindfulness expert. “Taking the time to handwrite a letter shows you care, that you’ve made an extra effort and you’ve really considered the other person.” 

     Smith suggests writing a gratitude letter to feel even more benefits. “Think about someone you feel grateful towards and allow yourself to fully express yourself on paper – it’s an incredibly powerful exercise for the writer and receiver,” she says. It’s important to practice gratitude especially in these unsettling times. So what are you waiting for? Let’s all try putting pen to paper this week and surprise someone with a thoughtful note. Go write a letter!