E-mails don’t carry warmth, feeling of hand-written letters


Alakananada Mookerjee

“…the flower of love is wilting in the blizzard of high tech…” – Alakananda Mookerjee

The Information Revolution of the 90s opened the floodgates to several wondrous possibilities.

The Internet along with its two most famous offspring – the World Wide Web and Electronic Mail – has the modern world wrapped around its little finger.

It has revolutionized communication, making it so much speedier, cost-effective and efficient.

It has expanded the reach and the technique of the media, by spawning thousands of non-traditional outlets for “news” – online newspapers, webzines and blogs. It has given birth to e-commerce.

Today, everything from ordering flowers to transmitting money overseas can be done via the Net.

Internet Technology (IT) is a boon, no doubt. But it is not free of its down side.

If on the one hand, IT has brought people closer by facilitating faster and greater interaction amongst them, then on another, it has also alienated them.

Starting in the mid-90s, there has been an explosion of software that promotes various forms of no-human-contact based communication – chat rooms, Instant Messaging services and discussion forums.

Add to this, the infinite dating channels that lure lovelorn “Singles” to join them with the promise of finding them their “true-love,” who is invariably “Just A Click Away!”

Be it a case of online chatting or posting messages on forums or writing emails, all of them have the key components of a traditional communication model – a source, a message, a channel and a receiver.

But there’s more to communication than just the dry dissemination of information and the conveying of messages. It also involves the transmission of “feelings.” And it is in this regard that IT has failed us. Quite unwittingly, it has robbed communication of its heart and soul.

The ever expanding universe of e-mails is causing the world of hand-written letters to shrink dangerously fast.

Unlike emails, letters written on dainty sheets of scented paper, folded neatly and sealed in envelopes with colorful stamps had a certain beauty about them.

Unlike handwriting, which is unique to every individual, type-written alphabets are all identical. And it is the very uniformity of typed letters that has made emails so insipid and banal.

Take another story: the case of online dating services. They offer variety, structure and predictability. Anyone doing a “partner search” is assured of an endless list of “Singles” to choose from.

As if it were as uncomplicated as buying a pack of sodas, all one has to do to find a soul-mate is to type in one’s gender, followed by the gender of the prospective partner.

Follow that up by the latter’s age bracket. And if location is of any concern, then that too, can be obtained from a pull-down menu that provides a listing of various countries/cities.

It’s hard to argue that virtual dating isn’t convenient, easy and cool. But it’s also easy to accuse it of being emotionless, cold and mechanical.

Electronic communication has inadvertently brought upon us the Ice Age of Romance, where the flower of love is wilting in the blizzard of high-tech communication.

Imagine this: sitting by the mellow warmth of a fire, crackling lazily in the hearth and writing a lettre d’amour to a lover in a far-away land.

Compare and contrast with this: Sitting on a study desk and typing away an email to a sweetheart next-door.

Alas, today, the concept of online dating, thought not without its virtues, has reduced “love” to a mere commodity. It has snatched away its charm and elegance.

Stumbling upon “love” by serendipity is what makes the experience amorous.

If it’s a machine that we must rely upon to find us our “love,” then, why love at all?

Alakananda Mookerjee is a journalism graduate student from India.