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Letter Writing is Getting Some Attention in the News

Canada's Globe and Mail ran an article about young people continuing the pen pal tradition.

Being pen pals is no longer reserved for felons, schoolchildren and the elderly. Websites such as FriendsWithPens.com and Facebook groups such as the shrilly titled “Penpals who write proper letters!” reveal thousands of twentysomethings and thirtysomethings pining for people to correspond with – with no strings attached. On online message boards, they write about cultivating lifelong friendships, peering in on distant cities and keeping snail mail alive despite the many swifter modes of communication at their disposal.

Students at Stoke Minster Primary School recently wrote letters to The Sentinel as part of a project on old-fashioned forms of communication.

They shunned text messages, emails and mobile phones to extol the virtues of letter-writing.

Teacher Bridget Harrison said: "The children chose to write the letters because people don't tend to write letters anymore and it was about showing the pupils that they get the same response as a text message or an email."

The collection of letters focuses on how modern technology is killing verbal communication.

The Guardian asked the question, "Do you think thank-you letters are still important and how do you show your gratitude after a dinner?"

Unlike mosquito bites or brussels sprouts, the awfulness of writing thank-you letters does not diminish with age. The truth, however ungracious it may sound, is that very few people sit down in front of that blank sheet of paper with any feeling of pleasure, however old they are. My theory is that this ordeal is the point of the thing – to show the gift-giver or erstwhile host that you're so grateful that you've put yourself through the torture of filling a whole side with effusive variations on "thanks a lot, it was really nice".

Being on the receiving end is a rather more gratifying experience. For a start, getting a handwritten letter or card in the post these days is exciting enough (to ensure maximum discomfort on the writer's part, and commensurate satisfaction on the recipient's, thank-you letters should always be handwritten, although crossings out are, I think, allowed these days), and to have your talents in gift buying, or cookery, extravagantly praised in a medium which you can display on the mantelpiece for all to see, is undeniably pleasing.

Nice to see that people are at least still talking about letter writing. As long as they keep it up, the practice will survive.

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