(By Kingsley Charles)
“In addition, the dying art of letter-writing has made inroads into the writing skills of the youth. Having to send messages via social networking sites, many Nigerian youth have thrown the ethics of writing letters to the wind. They can hardly write good constructions nor can they spell correctly, because of the meaningless abbreviations they employ when exchanging online messages. Hence, the actual meaning of the message is distorted owing to the hieroglyphic abbreviations“.
WITH the advent of the Internet, the growing of SMS and the diversification of communication technology in the present-day world, letter-writing appears to be teetering on the edge of extinction, as it has now become the Cinderella of the world of communication. Unarguably, the current revolution in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), through electronic mail and telephony, has eroded the relevance of letter-writing and postage stamps from our globe.
Nowadays, more and more people are becoming accustomed to instant messaging as communication technology advances. Consequently, the conveyance of thoughts and feelings via the Internet has become the current trend in the communication world. The emergence of the Internet and the improvements in ICT are, no doubt, meritorious technological feats. For instance, email is a much quicker means of written communication. Also, email can be sent from anywhere, and it allows one the benefit of sending the same message to different people at the same time, provided there is an Internet connection. Despite the ground-breaking achievements in ICT, the moribund art of letter-writing appears worse than it seems.
It is indisputable and somewhat regrettable, that many teenagers are not knowledgeable about postage stamps and their uses. Accustomed to sending messages and emails with their mobile phones via the Web, a great many Nigerians hardly visit post offices to send letters anymore. Thus, this has belittled the relevance and importance of postage stamps and letter-writing in Nigeria. This, in turn, has become a source of worry to the Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST), which is responsible for the designing and printing of postage stamps in Nigeria.
In addition, the dying art of letter-writing has made inroads into the writing skills of the youth. Having to send messages via social networking sites, many Nigerian youth have thrown the ethics of writing letters to the wind. They can hardly write good constructions nor can they spell correctly, because of the meaningless abbreviations they employ when exchanging online messages. Hence, the actual meaning of the message is distorted owing to the hieroglyphic abbreviations.
In the modern world, a prerequisite for employment in any firm is a letter of employment, which encapsulates an applicant’s educational background, reason(s) for employment, among others. Lamentably, many a Nigerian graduate has not mastered and internalised the rudiments of letter-writing. This invariably results in the submission of poorly written articles, riddled with grammatical solecisms, during job-hunting. It is no wonder that some job-seekers even copy sample employment letters from English-language textbooks.
Since antiquity, letter-writing has been a dignified art. It was, and still remains one of the strongest weapons with which greats and legends used in effecting positive changes in history. Letters have been the most suitable form of communication that reveals man’s innermost beauty, and help to express his thoughts and ideas clearly and explicitly. However, the beautiful art of letter-writing has been completely eclipsed by the leviathan of computing, the Internet.
Therefore, as part of the measures taken to revive this moribund art, I suggest that the public be enlightened on the importance and benefits of postage stamps and letters. The revolution in ICT is great, no doubt. But must we watch gormlessly as it erodes our culture and deprave the minds of our younger generation? Also, the Nigerian Postal Service, whilst ensuring a quick and efficient delivery of parcels, should work in conjunction with secondary schools and youth development centres in getting Nigerian youth interested in letter-writing. Creating writing competitions and granting scholarships to successful competitors will also help to revitalise and promote the culture of letter-writing.
• Charles wrote from the University of Calabar.
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