In today’s modern world we tend to associate letter writing and penpals a a thing of the past, swapping fountain pens for fingers on a screen.
Letters spritzed with a lover’s perfume, secret messages and spies are a romanticist’s dream and we often sigh about days gone by.
“Kids these days are never off their phones” is a phrase young people are used to hearing. It’s true – phones have become an entirely different universe and it’s hard not to become consumed in the culture they have unleashed.
By focusing on the negatives of social networking, the virtual world can seem like a cold and alienating place.
Much like previous generations, everyone wants to join in with their own era’s quirks. Remember curly perms? Rock ‘n’ Roll? And now, social media.
But if you listen closely to the social media algorithms, you might hear the words ‘snail mail revolution’ – which may offer you much more hope and promise for communication in the modern age.
Essentially, letter writing leaves young-old-souls with an aching heart. So much so, there has been a letter writing boom.
Hashtags such as #snailmailrevolution and #penpalswanted have created a whole new platform for young people to find like-minded letter writers. Air mail now has a modern twist.
It’s uplifting to read, in a society that loves to believe that social media distances us from the real world, it pairs hand in hand with traditional methods of communication.
Lucy Herbert, 19, has penpals across the world; sending letters to destinations such as China, Japan, France and America. Lucy’s penpal journey began after a close friend sent a supportive letter to help her during A Levels.
“She had noticed that I was struggling emotionally and decided that she wanted to offer me moral support. Inside the letter she put little paint swatches and a lovely note about our lives at that point. When I sent a reply, I was absolutely hooked,” she said.
Soon after, Lucy took to Instagram to help her find more willing writers. Fast forward to 2017 and Lucy has over 20 penpals in different locations.
“Social media is half a blessing and half a curse. The benefit of it is that I can connect with hundreds of people around the world who all want to experience new things and all have very different daily routines and lives”, she explained.
Strangers across the globe have become more like dear friends, according to Lucy.
Writing to people encourages others to join in and she hopes her page can be inspiring to other young people.
Correspondence can also prove to be a positive influence on mental health. There’s nothing like a lovingly hand-written note to raise the spirits.
“When you get a letter that isn’t about phone contracts or banking, it’s such a nice surprise.
“The postman gets involved too. He’ll say things like ‘lots of lovely mail today’! It brings people joy,” said Lucy.
So social media doesn’t have to be the end of the line for traditional communication. In fact, I strongly believe the more self aware we become about our phone usage, younger generations will feel compelled to talk more on buses, call old friends and join the revolution. And for those who criticise the kids with their ‘eyes glued to screens’, perhaps it’s not bad, it’s just new.
Follow Lucy on Instagram: @mrakmimail