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TROUBLESHOOTER / I dislike social media: Are my letters bothersome?

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female part-time worker in my 30s. I cherish my time writing letters, but I’m wondering how people take it when they receive them.

I know that few people write letters now, but I write to my pen pals, friends who live far away, and to some acquaintances, though I’m aware fewer people communicate through letters today. I do have a cell phone and use it to talk, but I avoid calling my friends. I don’t email them, either.

Neither do I want to use the messaging app LINE or any type of social media platform. I just don’t want to be swept away in the social trend.

However, people around me tell me I need to get a smartphone. They say it’s easier to communicate through LINE. I’m wondering if they think letters are something bothersome.

Do you think writing letters to others is bothersome for those who receive them? I look forward to getting your advice.

B, Niigata Prefecture

Dear Ms. B:

I noticed your beautiful handwriting and your refined choice of stationery. I assume you would be particular about the designs of the postage stamp, as well. You must have a variety of such combinations in mind, matching them with the people you’re writing to.

I myself keep away from social media, too, including LINE. I also write letters often. I know how enjoyable it is to choose stationery. Still, I try to keep my letters short not to make my letters too bothersome for those who receive them — as you mentioned in your letter to me.

My speculation on LINE being so popular is that it’s quick and easy to finish saying what you want to know and tell. It’s very efficient. But it gives me an impression that these communication tools weaken human communications. Speaking of extremes, I can imagine people even proposing getting married or seeking divorce over LINE.

Writing letters, thinking of the person it’s addressed to, is an elaborate way to imagine communicating, as described so in “The Tale of Genji.” However, I would like you to remember that there are poor correspondents among those receive letters. So please write letters while imagining those who receive them.

I’m sure your friends, who’d write back to you, bear the same warm feelings with you — something I felt when reading through your delicate handwriting.

Akemi Masuda, sports commentator

(from Sept. 28, 2018, issue)Speech

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