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Re: A Month of Letters Challenge, The Degradation of Social Networking

Posted by Kent Whittington on February 3, 2012 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Recently, I joined a challenge known as a Month of Letters whose purpose is simple, send 24 letters in 24 days in the month of February.  I just received my first response in the form of a postcard from a new friend in Massachusetts, shown here:

The message was warm and heartfelt, even wishing my wife a happy birthday and an invitation to write back.  It was a nice find in my mailbox today.

And it got me thinking.

I recently had an incident where someone on a social network (a friend that I have known for years both online and in person) decided, out of the blue, that he wanted to "unfriend" me from his list.  I was able to find out that the reason he gave was that "he wanted to streamline his list to only include friends he saw and had regular contact with."


In an age of digital media, is it really so easy for friends who have known each other for decades to just disregard that friendship?  The rationale behind this eludes me!  If a person has a group of friends he sees on a regular basis and communicates regularly with, wouldn't it make more sense to wish to keep the people he does not see on a network so that he can keep in touch?  Has the age of digital media and social networking made people calloused in regards to anothers feelings?

So often I have seen how a person on a social network feels slighted because of comments made by another, rather than taking another person's feelings into account.  Worse, this often occurs publicly, so everyone can see the negativity firsthand.

This is why A Month of Letters has so much appeal for me.

First, a letter is personal.  It is something to be shared solely between two people.  True, a letter may be shared with other once the receiver gets it, but even so, it is often with only a select few rather than the entire internet community.  The information is kept much more confidential.

Secondly, a letter, being a personal written message, takes a little more effort and forethought to complete.  It is far too easy to send harsh words over the internet, and far to easy to regret them later.  A person writing a letter in anger must take the time to piece their words together as they gather their thoughts and may often rethink what they are thinking even as they write.  It gives the individual a chance to slow down and think before they leap.  And if the letter is fun and written in friendship?  I think that makes it more valuable than gold!

In most cases, letters are just fun because they are something that a person can look forward to receiving.  We look forward to hearing from the sender rather than jumping on our computer and saying, "Oh! I see so and so has a post."   A letter is something we can anticipate with great joy and feeling, something we can read over and again and hold in our hands, knowing that this person thought enough about another to send them a personal message!

I think as a computer-aged civilisation we have lost touch with what the written word actually means when used to express how we feel.  We have forgotten that words can do more than process information.  Words can have an impact on a person's feelings.  Words can heal, but they can hurt as well, especially when they are handled with the disregard of many a social networker.

I remember I used to write love letters when I was in high school to my girlfriend.  She would write back and say the sweetest things.  I kept those letters in a box for years and often took them out and read them just because they made me feel good.  Can we even really do that in the internet? Not likely.  For me, that would be something I would not ever want to risk sharing with the world and a printed text message is not only impersonal but not long lasting.

So I'll get to my point, since I tend to ramble and may not make a lot of sense.  I would challenge everyone who views this to write at least one letter to a friend they speak with online all of the time.  Tell them perhaps that you thought it would be a nice idea to take the time to drop them a letter to just say "hi."  Maybe you have something really great going on in your life and you want to share it with your best friend.  Why not do it in the form of a letter?  I challenge everyone to send and receive one letter and see how it makes you feel.

I loved my postcard!

A Month of Letters Challenge, February, 2012

Posted by Kent Whittington on January 27, 2012 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Mary Robinette Kowal, my friend and aquaintance on Google + (and author in her own right), has offered a challenge for the month of February called A Month of Letters. The challenge is simple, write one letter a day for the month of February. I think I'll let Mary make the case here for me:


"The Challenge


Last September, I took a month off from the internet. During my vacation, I told people that they could correspond with me by paper letter. Some people did. Some people still are. Every letter delights me.


When I write back, I find that I slow down and write differently than I do with an email. Email is all about the now. Letters are different, because whatever I write needs to be something that will be relevant a week later to the person to whom I am writing. In some ways it forces me to think about time more because postal mail is slower. “By the time you get this…” It is relaxing. It is intimate. It is both lasting and ephemeral.


How so? I find that I will often read the letters that I receive twice. Once when I get them and again as I write back. So, that makes it more lasting. It is more ephemeral because I don’t have copies of the letters that I write and I am the only one who has copies of the letters that my correspondents write. So, more ephemeral.


When was the last time you got a letter in the mail? December sees a lot of mail and you remember that sense of delight when the first card arrives. You can have that more often.


I have a simple challenge for you.


In the month of February, mail at least one item through the post every day it runs. Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture, or a cutting from a newspaper, or a fabric swatch.

Write back to everyone who writes to you. This can count as one of your mailed items.

All you are committing to is to mail 24 items. Why 24? There are four Sundays and one US holiday. In fact, you might send more than 24 items. You might develop a correspondence that extends beyond the month. You might enjoy going to the mail box again.


Feeling intimidated? It’s fewer words than NaNoWriMo and I know how many of you do that. Join me in The Month of Letters Challenge.


Sincerely yours,


Mary Robinette Kowal"


You can find out more and sign up for the challenge at . I hope everyone I know participates, and remember, if you mail a letter to me, you will get one back! To that end, I have included my mailing address below.



Kent Whittington


9124 Madison Green Lane, #31

Orangevale, CA 95662



Hope to hear from everyone in February, and if you want to send me your addresses so I can send a letter to you, email me at [email protected] I'll keep all of the addresses discrete and personal. After all, we don't want them getting into the wrong hands now, do we?


Happy correspondence everyone!  :)



Guys, You Are Looking at a 2010 Nanowrimo Winner! Yay!!!

Posted by Kent Whittington on November 28, 2010 at 10:13 PM Comments comments (0)


As of November 30, 2010, Kent Whittington is a proud winner of 2010's Nanowrimo contest for his novel titled Crimson Cove, a Jackson Thorpe Mystery.


It was hard, but I managed to make it to 50,000 words (my current word count ended at 50,201 words, but the count continues).  Despite the fact that I won the contest, the novel itself is far from finished.  I would estimate that I am only about a third of the way through it.  Now the next step will be to finish it so I can submit it to Dorrance Publishing, who seem very interested in it.  I finished a long coming goal.  I'm determined to finish the rest.  :)