In 2013 I’m going to try something. I don’t usually do New Year’s resolutions, but I like the idea of the cold-startup (I don’t know what the opposite of cold turkey and ’stopping’ is, but that). For whatever reason, I need to do things all-or-none. I’m someone who thrives on having discipline in my life, setting goals, and laying out a structure to follow. I’m not always perfect at follow-through, which is why I’m going to do what I always do when I’m scared I’ll fail: I admit it and create accountability.
In 2013 I want to experiment with writing letters. I’m somewhat tired of the limits imposed on me by the current methods I have available for communication, especially social media and the web. I’m under no illusions about the impossibility of any communication medium allowing one to be full present. We are always mediated, always more than what we say, or what Heidegger calls “creatures of distance…always somewhere else.” And yet I long to be more than what Twitter permits, both in length, and also content. So many things aren’t appropriate there, and I’m not talking about explicitly inappropriate things. The unspoken norms of these spaces mean that one can perform but not be personal, hate but not love, share but never admit.
I’ve got colleagues and friends spread around the planet, and being someone who doesn’t like to travel, or, if I’m being honest, spend a lot of time with people in general (“Hi, my name’s Dave and I’m in introvert…”), I’m interested in finding ways to become more genuine and connected that honour who I really am. We have many modern ways to communicate, share, and work together, but I’m going to look to an old and somewhat outdated medium for insight into how to build better bonds with people over distance.
Part of me fears that letters won’t be received in the way I intend, that people will find them an intrusion, arcane, and overly personal. Another part of me longs for the life-of-letters that permeated the writings of my literary heroes. I don’t know, yet–I’m simply going to try and see what happens.
I’m not planning to leave modern, social communication spaces in 2013. I’m just going to be more intentional about the ways in which I use them, and perhaps take what might have gone into a post, tweet, or email and expand it into a letter. Whereas Twitter, irc, et al thrive on biting wit, cleverness, and a well timed jab, I’m going to try to be more encouraging, and focus on finding ways to edify and build-up.
If I ask you for your address, this will be why. If you want to send me a letter, I’d welcome that too.