GMail’s Compose window - quite like my bank balance - keeps getting smaller with every iteration. It makes sense. After all, who writes long e-mails these days? It’s funny really - sometimes I’ll get a mail from someone that spans just over three paragraphs - and they apologize for the long mail.

You could, of course, argue that we don’t need to send long emails - because we have better communication channels - like Skype/Hangouts/WhatsApp and the like. Yes, you would be correct. But ask yourself when was the last time you had a long, meaningful conversation with a friend over Skype? When did you have a lengthy discussion about the latest Marvel movie, the last cricket match, or depending on your age, about work, politics, religion or your bowel movement over Hangouts?

The problem with always being Online

Back in the old days, you would explicitly go online and sign-in to an instant messenger. It was an elaborate ritual that involved booting up your computer, clicking on the Internet icon, the dial-up modem making beeps (and you mouthing along), and finally clicking on ICQ or AIM. You would see that most of your buddies are offline, and a couple of them online. You would write “Hi” to someone, and they would reply. And you would continue chatting for a few minutes or even a few hours.

These days, everyone is always online. If you say “Hi” to someone, chances are, they will be busy. They will reply after a few hours. And that’s when you will be busy. Conversations become short and meaningless.

I find that this is pretty much the same with telephone calls. “Hey, I gotto run. Will talk to you later!”

Your awesome breakfast this morning

Don’t you want to share that on Facebook? Check-in to that restaurant? Tell all the people how amazing your life is? About how you’re feeling sad or happy or excited today? Oh, but how could I forget about the Send this to 10 people for good luck posts. Or about how Mars is going to be bigger than the moon. (Seriously, to the people who post that: Your mom is bigger than the moon).

Try sharing something that triggers a discussion, and see how quickly the trolls take over.

A solution

While instant messaging and social media do have their advantages, what is missing is the ability to have long, meaningful discussions with your friends. The telephone is a good option, provided you can decide a on a time. For people staying far away in different time zones, this would be difficult.

The solution, I believe, is what people have been doing since a long, long time - writing letters. Of course, you would e-mail them rather than having them go through the alimentary canal that is our postal system.

But then again, perhaps I am one of the few people who sees this as a problem that needs solving. Most people I know are perfectly content with sharing their short, poorly-worded life experiences over Facebook.

However, if you do agree with this post, I encourage you to start writing to people. As for the rest of you, get off my lawn!