In my childhood I, like many others of my generation, had penpals. There was a great sense of anticipation when waiting for the postman to deliver another batch of colourful letters, large curlicue script laboriously handwritten onto brightly coloured paper. It was a time when you could buy stationery sets with co-ordinated writing paper and envelopes and someone like me would be happy to receive such a gift.
Times have moved on and there is no place now for the handwritten letter. Penpals have been replaced with Facebook friends or Twitter followers. A three page missive complete with doodles and inkblots has now been supplanted with six word tweets, a click on a "like" button or a text.
These all have their place and I do like the instant gratification that comes with social media but I really miss the luxury of literacy. When letters became passé I took comfort in the lengthy email exchanges I used to enjoy but now even these have dwindled as more and more people forsake the effort of composing anything longer than a paragraph in favour of electronic grunts.
According to the media we all have reduced attention spans these days. They blame the MTV generation for the current state of play and point to the ever decreasing amount of time people are prepared to dwell on any one aspect of online interaction. There has been a weird devolution down from emails, forums and blogging down to Facebook updates, to Tweets and on to Tumblr and Pinterest pages where people don't post words at all a lot of the time. Even a two minute video on Youtube can be a bit much for some and the six second Vine is an improvement. All in the name of keeping things fresh, fast moving and therefore entertaining.
I'm not sure whether it is because I am a contrary old bat or if I am just a superior sort of being but I find that with my long attention span I am not entertained so much by snippets, grunts and pointing at things. I prefer my entertainment to be a more in depth process where I can immerse myself into what pleasure there is to be had. It's why I read novels rather than magazines, why I prefer an hour long walk to ten minutes on a treadmill. It is definitely a standard by which I would choose a lover. My favourites and most skilled have always been those who can write and win me over with words. Cunning linguists will always find favour in the Boudoir.