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Archive for May 30th, 2011

What letters know

I’ve learned to express myself in 140 characters or less. It’s not only how I write tweets, it’s also how I communicate in emails. Folks in my world want fast and simple communication. Analysis isn’t welcomed in these emails; long power point decks aren’t either. Actions and decisions are valued with short rationale.

What’s missing is time to reflect, and it’s evidenced in how we communicate. Writing an email we expect a response within 24 hours, same with a voicemail and a text message within two hours. We can cater our reply on how our audience responds to us.

Letters are different. You may not hear back from someone for days. You do not know whether they understoond your jokes or found your arguments persuasive. You imagine them in your head and write a letter to that person you imagine.

It’s day two of reading these love letters written in 1967, which I purchased at the flea market. We’re about 50 letters in and it’s clear than Johnny loves June. He writes her every week, often three times. June clearly doesn’t want to marry him, but he is not dissuaded. He goes on describing his world, which is really a device to bring her more deeply into it so he can ask the question again, like a song whose only merit is its catchy chorus.

If Johnny and June were Facebook friends, or even had email or Skype, this courtship would have ended within months not years. They would see each other’s lives openly and decide whether or not they were compatible. All the nuance of Johnny’s subtle asking and June’s not so subtle rejecting would have been lost as their relationship would have ended long before this courtship actually began.

May 30th, 2011 written by zach
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Zach Braiker

This blog analyzes where social media culture and business converge. Zach Braiker is the CEO of Refine & Focus a social media agency and an adjunct professor of social media at Emerson College.

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