Why Handwritten Notes Are Still Important

by Katie Robinson

I saw a poster ad in a New York City subway car the other day – “Use technology to make a personal impression through handwritten notes.” Let’s just replay that concept… computerised, handwritten notes. Seriously?

That defeats the entire purpose of a “handwritten” note, does it not? Is it just me or does anyone else for one second start to mourn the loss of personalisation itself, which I guess has now become a dying sentiment?

In today’s world, to be personal with someone isn’t what it meant 10 years ago.

What would have been going the extra mile to call a family member instead of texting them, or actually walking or driving to their house, has suddenly been replaced with likes and comments. Social media has become a caliber of some imaginary point system that we use to “interact” with friends.

What used to require a handwritten letter took form in emailing, which later became texting, which became commenting, and has now transformed into computerised notes, which exist simply to mimic the act of a personal effort. In the midst of my grief, I have to recognise now that this means one crucial thing: handwritten notes are more coveted now than ever before. And this is not only a function of the tremendous effects they can make in your life. But it is also because of their rarity that they will make the biggest impact to the receiver.

Say you get a restaurant bill… The waiter is attentive, kind, and to be honest, probably doesn’t get the gratitude he deserves. You choose to write a quick thank you note on the check – what does that say about you? Mostly, that you appreciate the work and the effort that the servers put forth. But it will also have a bigger impact on him. I did this one time at a restaurant near my apartment. The note said, “Thank you so much, Dexter!”

Dexter was so touched by the thoughtful gesture, that the next time I came in, he didn’t charge me for a glass of wine with my dinner. The next time, the same. And the last time I came in, he simply asked, “red or white?” You see what a second of your effort to actually personalise a note can do?

Now, I write “thank you” on every restaurant bill I receive. Not in vain, although those complimentary glasses of wine were nice, but because I couldn’t believe the happiness it gave Dexter that first time I did it. He truly felt appreciated, and he was a stranger to me at the time.

Think of the impact a longer, more meaningful handwritten note would have on someone who is actually close to you.

So, in the new age of social media, remember to maintain some measure of humanity. To get a computerised note from someone would be like receiving a business card. It is cold. For me personally, I can’t imagine receiving one and feeling touched or connected.

Take a second to write a memo down to your boss, or write that thank you note you’ve been putting off for a week, because you never know what that simple act could mean to them. There are so many little things we can do to stay connected and bring joy to people – this is a big one. Words matter. Your words matter.

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