We live in a technology driven age where letter writing is slowly disappearing and email is taking over. Telephonic conversations have a substitute in the form of texts and physical meetings are being conducted over skype or facetime. E-feel is the new personal feel. However, there are still a few who are putting all their efforts into bringing the human touch back into the digital age. Twenty-four-year old Ted speaker and the founder of More Love Letters, Hannah Brencher is one such voice that encourages the art of letter writing. Through her experience and initiative, she has spread the joy and love that is felt while writing or receiving a handwritten letter.
How did the concept of More Love Letters come about?
I always tell people that the idea for More Love Letters was a complete accident. Back in October 2010, I was living in New York City and really grappling within the folds of loneliness and depression. I was battling feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing. As an effort to escape myself, I began writing and leaving love letters all over the public transit in New York City. Then those letters spread out to bookshops, and libraries, and cafes. I became quite enamored with the idea of leaving love letters behind, and extended a promise to the world that I would write a love letter to anyone who came to me with their snail mail address. I spent the next 10 months writing love letters to strangers before deciding to start a website where others could see the recipe and get involved themselves. From that, MoreLoveLetters.com was born! It has since spread to all 50 states, over 50 countries and over 100 college campuses.
How did it help you and the people around you?
I think for me, letter writing did not solve my every problem. I still dealt with the depression but it allowed me to escape from my own unraveling. It allowed me to proceed forward and keep moving. I think it was also a refresher in the days of others that I was actually responding, and reaching out to them, and sending them love.
“I was living in New York City and really grappling within the folds of loneliness and depression. I was battling feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing. As an effort to escape myself, I began writing and leaving love letters all over the public transit in New York City.”
What was it you were trying to communicate through those letters?
I know now that I was simply trying to communicate all the things that I could not give myself at the time — peace, security, a sense of worth and self-love. I knew I was not alone in feeling this way, so I was really craving a way to pour love on others, even when I knew I could not give those words to myself.
What is it about the power of pen and paper that evokes emotion in you?
I think sitting down with a pen and paper is a much slower process than typing words on a screen. It creates the need for more presence to the page. It means we have to be more careful. We need to go slower and that is counter cultural to anything we are experiencing in the digital age. I think we need to slow down every once in a while
“I am hoping that these letters just keep doing exactly what they are already doing — outliving me, and spreading beyond me, and serving as a light and a lantern for other people in a way that I cannot always do.”
Any interesting anecdotes you’d like to share about the letters, reactions, and the ripple that you created.
That’s been the really wild and ridiculous part. I never anticipated that it would spread so much or that people would take it and run with the idea. It truly amazes me on a daily basis. We get stories upon stories from people who have love lettered their neighborhoods, or found peace in finding letters tucked around their colleges. It was amazing the other day because someone from my hometown emailed to tell me they got one of my letters, which they found in a local grocery store. I just had to laugh because I did not write the letter. The movement spreads daily in the most remarkable of ways. I’m always blessed to see that the letters reach people right when they need them the most, it seems.
And lastly, where are you hoping these letters will lead to?
I am hoping that these letters just keep doing exactly what they are already doing — outliving me, and spreading beyond me, and serving as a light and a lantern for other people in a way that I cannot always do. That’s my hope for the letters. That they create their own ripple effect and the world becomes better because of them and the people who write them.
Text Shruti Kapur Malhotra
Photography Tiffany Farley