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Why I created Pen A

By: P-A-L

Hey you!

   Yes you! Quit multitasking and just stop for a second. What you are doing to yourself is bad. You have eroded your attention span to nothing.

You have forgotten how to read!

   You don't even know what you have lost. You don't know what it takes to have a complete thought, because somewhere along the way, you have learned to stop listening halfway through. You have already scanned this page and said to yourself, "This is too much writing, I dont have time for this." SNAP OUT OF IT! This website is your salvation. You need it. It doesn't pretend to cater to your every whim and wish. It doesn't immediately entertain you. It makes you work to earn its respect. Still with me? Alright, then read on.

   Before I created, I noticed a big problem with the now current, then new, style of communication put forth by social media sites. Mostly it was that people were/are forgetting how to pay attention to one another. Forgetting how to express themselves in complete thoughts. Forgetting why this would even be important in our daily lives.

   Complete and articulate thoughts are what separate us from our closest animal cousins. They represent our humanity. It is my hope that this problem can be solved by creating a new website, and through it, a new way of communicating. Or rather, just revisit an old way of communicating.

   When the Library of Congress stated that it was archiving all tweets to capture the communication of this generation, I was appalled. Long gone are the days where generations will be remembered by the letters and articulate thoughts that they expressed. Instead, we have replaced them with a almost machine language comprised of bit URLs and re-tweets from other users. Looking backwards, it doesn't really seem like it was any one influence or site, just more a natural progression. First email pushed us towards a shorter and shorter conversation style, then text messaging followed with its character limit. Facebook, Twitter, Imgur, (insert name your social media site here), have followed and pushed us further towards shortening our messages into tiny (sometimes meaningful) presentations of ourselves. We have loved every moment of it. Now that we have reached this point however, you may be having some regrets. I know I am.

   How many times have you written a long, well thought out response on Facebook, only to find that your 1000+ character comment (963 characters to be exact) has been silenced by an ellipses and click for more link? Or even worse, have you tried to express yourself via twitter? 140 characters, are you kidding?! A popular quote has been tossed around to justify the shortened messages, and it goes something like this, "I am sorry for the long letter, I didn't have time to write a shorter one." While I understand that a few well thought out words can have a greater impact than a poorly written essay, I don't think Thomas Jefferson or Mark Twain (whomever this actually originally came from) had a 140 character limit in mind. At Pen A Letter, I encourage you to formalize your thoughts, and to use as many characters as it takes to communicate your message. To summarize, you can write a description. The first 963 characters shouldn't represent what you have to say, you should determine that.

   Wait, don't we already have a tool for this? What about blogs, you ask? Yes, let us talk about blogs for a moment. Blogs allow you to design a spectacular page, full of clouds, mountain ranges, breathtaking sunsets, where your words will be held on high for everyone to gaze upon. It's easy, and fun.

   Time for another dose of reality. Once you get through creating, dressing, and redressing the site that you will eventually get around to writing in, you will have forgotten what you actually wanted to write in the first place. That in itself would not be so bad, designing webpages can be a fun and creative experience, if that is what you wanted to do. It isn't though. You wanted to write. That is the problem. Once you re-visit the blog that you created, you will feel a diet-like guilt for not posting regularly. The thousands of potential viewers will never have the chance to be enlightened by the wisdom and feelings you were possessed with when you created the blog. Hastily to make up for lost time, you blast out a few un-outlined, disorganized posts about your dog, brother, dinner, and the last hike you went on. However, it just isn't what you wanted, and if you even bother to share it on your Facebook timeline, it is just another one of those four post blogs that you started a while back but never incorporated into your regular routine because it didn't provide any positive feedback. Another new years resolution down the toilet, and you feel bad to boot. Writing should not be like that. It should be a rewarding and fulfilling experience.

   Instead of taking that dead-end road, I argue that you should just Pen a Letter instead. The site will sort your letter and post it in whatever category you tell it. If people like it, it will get ranked high. If they don't then they will let you know. Contrary to popular belief, just because everyone believes something to be true or right, doesn't make it so. I promise to have your letter in our database for as long as I stay in business. Perhaps public opinion will eventually shift proving you right, and everyone will remember and re-rate your letter. Who knows? Stranger things have happened! To further the reach of your letter, you can share it to Facebook, or tweet it on Twitter from the View A Letter Page. Yes, to all of you who might be thinking about re-reading the last few paragraphs, I brought up the site's integration into Twitter in the same letter that I slammed it. That is truly is part of our business model.

   Another reason a user could use our site is to take advantage of the Send a Physical letter option. When you select Send a Physical letter, on a letter that either you or someone else has written, we will send a physical copy via snail mail to your chosen recipient. (We use US postal mail, so no out of country letters at this time, sorry) This was actually the primary reason for starting up the business. We all felt that if sending a physical letter was as easy as emailing someone, then the post would get used more, and perhaps Grandparents who are not computer savvy might be able to once again communicate with their grandchildren.

   Lastly you can use our site for inspiration in your own letters. Do you need a little help writing that congratulations / graduation letter? Take a look at our graduation category, and see what other people have put down. Want to see what other people have written when they want to break up in a long term relationship? Search for Long Term Relationships/Breakup and get what you need to get the job done. We have just about a category for every type of letter or thought you can imagine.

   While these are the primary reasons that I think people will use the site, it really does boil down to one main reason. I want people to once again converse in complete thoughts. I want our generation to be remembered as the ones who re-discovered the art of listening to one another. This is the first step.

 Skimming doesn't count! Go back and read every word. Listen to the words in your head.

   If you have truly read every word I wrote, you know what it means to understand a complete thought. This is what listening feels like. Trust me, this site will make you a better reader, writer, and overall a better person. That's why I created it, and that's why I plan on using it. So please take a look around, read slowly, and if the mood strikes, Pen a Letter!



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