When Ireland enforced a lockdown in late March, postal service provider An Post sent each household in the country two free stamps and postcards to encourage people to write to each other. The initiative worked: the An Post reported an increase in non-business correspondence in a time when people were not able to meet their friends and family because of the pandemic.
According to a report in the BBC, youngster Riona Nolan, a 17-year-old student from County Carlow, used this opportunity to cut back on the time she spent on social media and instead put pen to paper.
"You have to really think about what you're going to write instead of just shooting a text with a few words in it," she was reported as saying. Riona started exchanging letters with her friend, who lives just around the corner but wasn't able to hang out with, and also wrote to her grandmother, both of whom she missed.
Similar stories of how people started writing letters began emerging all over the world.
In May, there were news reports of how 11-year-old Emerson Weber from South Dakota in the United States had set off a "trend" of writing letters. Though she'd been writing letters for years, one of her letters to her local postman during lockdown, thanking him for delivering all her letters, caught the attention of other mail workers. Soon, the young girl began to receive mail from postmen all around the country.
And, when her idol singer Taylor Swift got wind of her letter, Emerson received a surprise package from the singer!
Many others wrote to commend the young one on her thoughtfulness.
The trend of writing to others traveled to Massachusetts as well, Connecting Vets Radio reported. It sparked when navy veteran, Tim Moran, posted a message on Facebook seeking help from the community to write letters to isolated veterans in a community living centre (CLC), dubbing it "Operation Mail Call".
"I asked people to write to our veterans in the CLC on the main campus since they can't leave or receive visitors for their own safety," he said.
Every veteran received at least three to four letters, amounting it to around 115 to 120 pieces of mail just from Moran's initial Facebook post alone.
On the flip side, writing does not just help others but yourself too.
In Britain, Doncaster Free Press reported that Karen Watson, an artist from Bessacarr in South Yorkshire, turned to bullet journaling when lockdown was enforced in England. The bullet journal method was introduced by Ryder Carroll and he designed a way to provide an organised yet versatile layout to encourage people to keep track of their work and even express their thoughts.
After being inspired by the bullet journaling community on social media, Watson gave it a go and managed to lay down more structure back into her life.
"I find journaling really therapeutic, just taking time out of my day to do something for me is really relaxing.
"Everyone can get really caught up in life and this is a way to take your mind off the horrendous news in the world," the 40 year-old added.
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