Personal Letters and Our Culture of Rudeness

As the local TV pundits like to say: It was a great weekend weather-wise in Northeast Ohio. Weather-wise. Kind of an odd word. And most likely used incorrectly by the TV weather guys and gals. But do most people really care about the precise use of words — or the quality of writing these days?


I was thinking about that this weekend, following two five-mile runs in the early morning — both coming immediately after purging myself and my computer of the hundreds of e-mails and Tweets that show up each day.

I came home Sunday and wrote a personal note — ink on card — to a friend. Not sure I’ve done that in even the past year or so, maybe longer. I can’t remember the last time I have received a personal letter via snail mail, short of the quick scribble that often adorns Xmas cards. And what I wrote wasn’t long enough to be a letter. Yet I gave some careful thought to every word.

My take: The fact that we no longer write personal letters — or even give all that much thought to what we cram into e-mail, text messages, Tweets and so on — contributes to our culture of rudeness. And that is directly linked to our lack of civility — a condition that is pervasive.

E-mail encourages abruptness. And I’m as guilty of that as anyone. Type as fast as you can — think about it as little as possible — hit the send button. Repeat. And if it is laced with grammar, spelling and other errors — oh, well.

Probably will quit writing all together one of these days. As soon as some new technology allows us to just shout at each other. “You lie.” Can’t wait.

Anyway, just a thought as I continue to consider the implications for public policy and life in general as we become less civil to each other and more rude.

E.J. Dionne Jr. touched on this subject in his WaPo column, “Washington Mean Time.”

And I take it Serena Williams didn’t read my last few posts on civility. Her shitstorm at the U.S. Open may have cost her the championship. She should be suspended, not just fined.

Then there is Kanye West. I had no clue who he is or what he does until I got up this morning and saw all outrage and buzz on Facebook, Twitter and so on. Apparently he is a national figure of some importance. Go figure.

In any event, maybe Kanye should be forced to apologize to Taylor Swift — and do it by writing a personal letter.

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