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Personal letters might seem to be a quaint form in the twenty-first century, and there’s no question they have an old-fashioned feel to them. But it’s precisely their unusual, almost rare nature that can make them so powerful. The very act of taking the trouble to find a stamp, envelope, and postal address elevates the importance of your message as the sender. As the recipient, when you open your mailbox and find a personal letter from someone, you tend to honor the care that person has taken to communicate with you in this medium. Imagine being the only job applicant who writes a personal letter of thanks for an interview, or the only former student who writes a personal letter of thanks for a letter of recommendation. Yes, it’s quaint and old-fashioned, but it can also be a very effective way of distinguishing yourself from the crowd. And sending a personal letter to a close friend in a time of need or celebration can still be just the right thing to do.
Personal letters are just that—personal. Hence you can create them in any way you like. You should, however, keep in mind that once you write and send a personal letter, it becomes a permanent, tangible written record, even more so than an e-mail or a post on a friend’s social networking site. So make sure you write information and use a written format with which you want to be permanently associated.
The following lists present some typical features of personal letters.
How would you commemorate the following events in the life of a close friend who lives on the other side of the country? Would you send that friend a personal letter, an e-mail, or a text message or post a message on the wall of her social networking page? Discuss the implications of your choices of medium.