NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, January 26th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
If you’re on social media, maybe last year you noticed how many people began moving from the big tech providers to smaller start ups. Concerns over privacy, ideologies, and censorship—some of the reasons for the move.
EICHER: But when Amazon kicked Parler off its servers a few weeks ago, WORLD’s Paul Butler began wondering about a more reliable social media platform. One insulated from big tech control. He found one. Turns out, it’s been around for awhile, and it encourages greater harmony and connection among users.
PAUL BUTLER, CORRESPONDENT: It’s a Saturday morning. I’m on my phone, scrolling through my news feed. I just got an alert that there are messages awaiting my attention.
AUDIO: [HEADING OUT FOR THE MAIL]
I put on my shoes, go out my front door, and down the steps to retrieve them.
AUDIO: [MAIL BOX OPEN]
SCHULTZE: When somebody receives something from us, that’s handwritten by us, then they feel like we actually have a deeper desire to serve them, to connect with them.
Quentin Schultze is Communication Professor Emeritus at Calvin College. He’s a fan of handwritten notes and personal letters.
SCHULTZE: If there’s something very personal, that’s encouraging, complimentary, it makes a huge difference.
For years, he’s observed how social media exploits our desire to be an influencer. We measure success in numbers of followers.
SCHULTZE: Communication is not about sending and receiving messages. Communication is about connecting with each other. So communication is fundamentally about creating relationships.
During these particularly divisive times, Schultze believes one way to build relationships—instead of tearing them down—is returning to the practice of writing notes to each other.
SCHULTZE: Handwritten notes are tremendously powerful today, because they are so personal. Very few people will take the time to get a card or a piece of paper and write a note and send it to someone, it just does not happen much. And if you compare that to sending off a text, or an email, or even calling someone on the phone, there’s much more time, effort, commitment. And then finally, there’s more personality we come through personally in a handwritten note, because nobody has our handwriting.
Note writing comes with many other benefits.
WARD: Oh, man, right now, I mean, I’m no sociologist, I’m no counselor, but we all know that mental health is something that’s on all of our minds…
Wes Ward is executive pastor at Gospel City Church in Granger, Indiana. He says right now, isolated people yearn for personal touch. A handwritten note is one way to do that.
WARD: For me, it feels like encouragement is a tool in my toolkit to help keep fellow Christians on the right path and moving forward. I just want to do what I can to tell everyone that I can: “Hey, you’re doing a good job.” And so I’m blessed to be a part of telling people when I see what God’s doing in their lives, and there is something powerful about a handwritten note too, when I take the time to do that.
It’s important at the office too. The most effective managers find that personal notes are a powerful tool for morale and team unity.
BUTTS: Boy, isn’t it amazing that a kind word spoken can make such a difference.
Bob Butts currently serves as chief operating officer at Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.
BUTTS: I think the reason, or one of the reasons, that I like to do that, is simply because it’s a lost art. It’s a dying art. And it means more to people than I think we realize.
He’s not perfect. He admits there are many times he’s missed opportunities.
BUTTS: And I wish there were times where I had written notes. The time got away from me and I didn’t take the time to write the note. It’s disappointing when I look back on how many missed opportunities there were, and yet, we only have the time that we’ve been given. So I try to do better.
While he’s sent many hand-written notes to employees over the years, he recently received one that still sits on his desk from a new hire.
BUTTS: Wow, he didn’t need to take the time to do that. But that he did, I still have that note on my desk and I intend to put it in a file that I keep of notes that I receive, that I occasionally will go back to and reference because they meant something to me when I received them.
Professor Quentin Schultze also keeps a file of personal notes. It’s an added benefit he says to this kind of communication—the potential for long lasting effect on the recipient.
SCHULTZE: I go to that file. And look at that, and remind myself what God has accomplished through me in my life, because those letters are like a mirror of God’s work in my life.
Some of the notes he displays on what he calls “a gratitude board” in his office.
SCHULTZE: These notes mean a tremendous amount to me as encouragement, in a time where we all desperately need encouragement.
So how do you start? Get yourself some blank cards or postcards, a broad tip pen or marker, and then, watch for ways people show kindness to you or others: a gift, an encouraging word, a thoughtful act. When you see it, write them a note.
SCHULTZE: Even if you write one note a week, to somebody else, maybe four or five sentences, I’m writing to thank you for x or y or z. I really appreciate you as a friend, as, as a husband, whatever it is, and then send that off. Don’t make it long. Don’t give all kinds of explanations directly to the point from your heart. That will mean a lot to the recipient.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Paul Butler.