Such is the advanced technological world we live in today, that I haven’t written a letter in probably a decade.
A “letter” here of course being in longhand, preferably using a fountain pen for class, with the meticulously dotted i’s and crossed t’s on proper “stationery”, which means paper, not just stuff we get from the office supply cupboard and take home.
A letter here does not mean email, nor memos, certainly not text messages or instant messages surrepstitiously answered while we do our “work”.
I have a letter to my best-friend-in-secondary-school that I started in late June still sitting on my desk to be finished, put in an envelop and stamped.
And why did I start this letter?
Was it to rekindle a bygone era where we bought cheap stationery printed with flowers or cute little kittens on which we sent little notes to each other even though we met each other every day in class?
Was it for practice so that I wouldn’t lose my ability to use my hand in case one day all the computers break down and I’m forced to *gasp* write something in longhand?
Or was it because I am attempting to swim against the current of modernity and bring back the ettiquette of the thoughtfully-considered written word?
Well, if you really must know, it’s because I lost her email address and telephone number and there’s no other way to contact her.
Such indeed, is the advanced technological world we live in today that this next scenario, in which I took part most recently, could ever take place.
I had been happily incommunicado since I lost my handphone about four months ago. But lately, being in a foreign land with lesser means of communication has taken a toll – I missed my friends, specifically the ability to just turn around at work and whisper gossipy things about the resident psycho; I missed late night conversations about how the day went and hearing soothing words that would wash away all the angst for a fresh new day tomorrow; I missed the instantaneous acknowledgement that you are hearing what I’m saying instead of wondering if the email went through and if I had not written something which did not quite “sound” as I had meant it.
So I got myself a handphone, and the rest of the story went like this:
This girlfriend had been bugging me to get a phone. So the next time she emailed me, I sent her a short reply by email, saying that I had a phone, but that I didn’t have enough credit to call out or to receive calls (as I’m on roaming, I’d have to pay for incoming calls).
Then she sends me an SMS on my new phone.
This is followed by an email that she had sent me the SMS.
I SMS her back.
Then I send her an email to say that I indeed received her SMS and had sent her a text reply.
She sends me an SMS to say that we should chat.
I email her and suggest we should meet up on messenger.
She sends me her messenger username by SMS.
I add her as a friend on my messenger.
Then I send her an email to tell her that I’ve added her on messenger. At the same time, I suggest she try to call me to see if the call-in deduction would kick in.
She calls me but we can’t chat long. The deduction kicks in and I run out credit.
She sends me an SMS to get back on messenger.
I send her an SMS reply with my messenger ID. She puts me on her list.
We start instant messaging.
She gets cut off several times.
She sends me an SMS that she was cut off.
She also sends me an email telling me that the messenger is not working too well. I send an email reply to try using another system.
In a little while, we try instant messaging again. It doesn’t work.
I send her an SMS to say that I never received any word through the messenger.
She sends me an email to say that she’s getting off work.
I email my goodbyes.
Convoluted process it was, with four types of communication technology – the call, the SMS, the email and instant messaging.
But you know what? Even with all that, or because of all that, we didn’t really have a chance to chat!
Do you think I should start writing her a letter?