Are pen pals a thing of the past?

imageAre pen pals a thing of the past? Some time ago The Grey Traveller listened to Peter Tinniswood’s Pen Pals on Radio Four’s I Player with the lovely Jane Lapotaire and Lorelei King. The drama opens with Jane’s character Fay in a flap as her childhood pen pal (Beth) of many years proposes a visit from Florida to Bristol.

Fay is not keen on the visit and in her mind she replays some of the letters in the intervening years which has taken the girls through womanhood, marriages/affairs and children. Fay would rather keep Beth at arms length.

This got me to thinking, when I was child in the sixties and seventies having a pen pal was de rigeur, maybe to practise a language or maybe to practise letter writing……. but with the advent of internet and subsequently the growth of social media surely pen pals as such are a thing of the past? However have we all now got micro ‘pen pal’ relationships with our friends on Facebook? Letter writing may have all but disappeared into fragmented texts and email with the occasional round robin letters at Christmas?

Facebook has meant that we can find estranged or long lost family and friends ….but would we have these ‘friends’ if not for social media, there has been much written on the disadvantages of being able to connect with almost anyone.

So are pen pals a thing of the past?

To return to Fay and Beth, I enjoyed their story!



15 thoughts on “Are pen pals a thing of the past?

  1. I suspect they are more or less a thing of the past, and I do think that’s a shame, even though inevitable. I remember enjoying corresponding with my foreign penpals, choosing notepaper etc.! Social media allows an element of that, but i find it has less depth. I’m not likely to write 4 pages of news to someone on Facebook!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Though with the internet it’s considered old-fashioned and inconvenient now, I still have been writing pen pals for the past decade and it’s been my favorite hobby just as long. There are a bunch of people still interested in writing actual letters, I’m pleased to report!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There are some large fountain pen groups on the Internet where members can exchange addresses and write to each other. This is February and there are two big events that I know of this month: incowrimo and lettermo in which participants vow to send out at least one letter a day for the month of Feburary.

    Liked by 1 person

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