Less Texting and More Letters
“In the intimate sphere of conjugal family privatized individuals viewed themselves as independent even from the private sphere of their economic activity—as person capable of entering into “purely human” relations with one another. The literary form of these at the same time was the letter. It is no accident that the eighteenth century became the century of the letter: through letter writing the individual unfolded himself in his subjectivity…. The letter soon came to serve scholarly communication and familiar courtesy.” (48)
For Habermas, letter was a form that family members were able to have not only “purely human” relationship with each other, but also “to serve scholarly communication and familiar courtesy.” (48) Accessing novels that were written around 18th and 19th century, one could easily recognize the active usage of letter as a mean of communication. From one of my favorite movies Pride and Prejudice (2005) based on the original story by Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice (1813), the role of letter is not for information only, but also for the emotional communication. During the movie, Elizabeth Bennet’s family is constantly getting informed about social events and updates by getting letters everyday. Often times, there are scenes where different characters sit on the windowsill waiting on letters from family members or from friends.
Surely means of communication back then are far different from the ones from today where we can immediately find any sorts of information without any limitation in amount, location, and in time-being. Same with sharing of feelings. Since updates are fast with where you are and what you do very accurately with photos and videos in real-time, there are no blank space and time to wonder and think about who this person is, and what this person might do at this moment. The beauty of imagination and writing letters with deep consideration is disappearing. It is amazing to experience the extremely fast speed of communication we experience today. Since it is too fast, sharing “shell” occurs at majority of time than sharing of “contents” inside shell, or critically talking about contents. Accordingly, today we tend to spend more time in texting and sharing itself, but less time on reading what’s in between of lines (texts more likely.)
As we must have social interaction, getting update is necessary; however, are we also paying the same amount of attention to personal interaction and deeper feelings with friends and family? or even with ourselves? Of course the good balance is crucial, but we also need to think about if we do have that balance in our lives. In Pride and Prejudice (2005), there’s a scene where Elizabeth spend hours and hours in front of mirror alone staring at herself. She seems flashing back with her memories and feelings from what happened between her and Mr. Darcy and we can assume that she’s pondering by the length of time passed (changes in sky brightness in background) and by her concentration during that time. Elizabeth realized far later that there was a letter by Mr. Darcy delivered a while ago. It turns out to be a letter with truth to resolve all misunderstandings between two. The letter later leads to the true confession of ones’ feeling and emotions. As Habermas states about transition from written opinion to oral statement has brought huge change in our society. But sitting down quietly and writing letters to deeply look into our mind into something or someone is something very delicate and beautiful.