How Social Media is Ruining the Fan Letter

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with The Babysitters Club and spend countless hours composing letters to Ann M. Martin. I never sent any of those letters, but I don't think it mattered. I enjoyed writing those letters just as much as I enjoyed reading the books that she helped create. Further, those letters helped me hone in my writing skills...a skill I am thankful for every single day of my life. As I got older, I found myself continuing to write (mostly) unsent fan letters to various other people I admired...namely, a rock band that will be left unnamed. Again, it did not matter so much that no one aside from me would ever read those letters. The important thing was that I was writing, and, as I was a pretty emo teen...I was giving myself a healthy outlet for my emotions instead of cutting, or drinking, or drugs. Plus it saved my parents tons of money on a shrink... As an adult, I no longer write fan letters. Sent or unsent, it doesn't matter. I just do not write them. It's not because I no longer care to share my admiration or enthusiasm for a book, a piece of music, etc. In fact, I think the opposite is true. I am more likely to share my praise. But unlike the child or teenage version of myself...I am more likely to share publicly. If I'm enjoying something, I will tweet about it. I will blog about it. I might even go so crazy as to post about it on Facebook. Bottom line, I am putting my admiration into the greater sphere for all to see, and to feel. And I'm putting it out for that writer, or musician to see...if he or she is so inclined. And it can be a wonderful thing. I am always honored when I tweet a writer I admire, and get a response. I was absolutely floored years ago when I wrote a review of Caprice Crane's first novel, Stupid and Contagious, and she commented to thank me. But you know what? I miss those days when I would sit with a blank page (a literal/physical blank page and spill my guts to someone who managed to stir up my emotions to the point that I could no longer contain them. I had to put them on paper, for my eyes only.