Hannah Brencher on Letters, Strangers and Love

“I posed a kind of crazy promise to the Internet: that if you asked me for a hand-written letter, I would write you one, no questions asked.” ~ Hannah Brencher

Hannah Brencher‘s (@hannahbrencher) phrasing, and the idea it sums up, struck home. First, there’s that opening phrase.  The Internet for those who’ve grown up with it is an entity. A being. Like the universe. Or a god.

More Love LettersFor me — and I suspect for many others too who watched the Internet’s birth, that first spank on its still wet posterior, that first gasp of air followed by a global yowl — the Internet is a communication infrastructure, a virtual web connecting beings and entities. But I find Brechner’s notion immensely appealing. And accurate. The idea that I could make a promise to the Internet might have seemed trite in another time, another context. But Brencher’s story and her promise kept, More Love Letters, is proof positive that the Internet is infinitely more than the sum of its parts. The Internet is a being. A universe. A god.

And then there’s the tribute to handwritten correspondence.

Many of you who know me personally (and even some who don’t) have received a handwritten note from me at one time or another. Usually written with green ink and barely legible handwriting. For no reason other than that I love green ink, and — though my penmanship is poor — I wanted to share some words with you. Smudges and all. Don’t get me wrong, voice mail and email and text messages and social media updates and pokes and tweets all have their important roles to play, but increasingly rare handwritten notes are special. They are real and enduring and intimate in a way that digital notes are not.

Last but not least there’s that exciting gulp feeling you get when you watch Brencher’s TED Talk. Maybe even a joyful tear. And it’s not because she kept her promise or the Internet’s a god or you’re getting sepia-toned nostalgic about paper and ink. It’s a gulp because what she’s built is good. Really good. So good that it’s gone viral and created a global tribe of benevolent love letter planters.

I tip my proverbial hat (or fountain pen?) to friend and frequent inspiration, Athena Roth (Pinterest) who shared Hannah Brencher’s “Love letters to strangers” with me. Roth’s song and aesthetic sensibilities are gifts not altogether unlike Brencher’s love letters.

4 Comments to “Hannah Brencher on Letters, Strangers and Love”

  1. Amy Guglielmo says:

    love this story! You have excellent handwriting! Thanks Athena Roth too!

  2. virtualDavis says:

    Isn’t it great? I’m thinking we need to introduce Hannah and Athena. They’ll make fine pals. Internets, work your magic! As for excellent handwriting… Me thinks you’re being generous. But streeetching the truth! ;-)

  3. Athena Roth says:

    George-I just wanted to tell you how beautiful this piece was. I loved reading it. Also, thank you for that last paragraph. Such beautiful words mean so much from someone I admire.

  4. virtualDavis says:

    You flatter. The last sentence is the crux of the matter; it just took me a lot of words (and a Hannah Brencher bridge) to get there! I’m hoping to connect you and artist, author and world class smiler, @google-a80c5cbf3bf36239900a5aea96960919:disqus. Have you ladies ever met?

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