Calling mobile text messages “cyber fumes”, which take an “emotional toll”, St Stephen’ s College principal Valson Thampu has sent a letter to all Stephen’s students asking them to also write handwritten notes to “anyone they feel close to or strongly about”.
For this, the principal has begun a letter writing competition in the college and also announced cash prizes for the top three letters.
“SMS is like a cyber fume, it can only survive for minutes minutes. It cannot be retained. But a handwritten letter is something else,” Thampu told The Indian Express.
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“An SMS is a text imprinted with impertinent impermanence. This takes an emotional toll on us. We need to express our feelings and sentiments in their richness and fullness and overcome our fear of intimacy with our loved ones in the process of communicating. The very purpose, after all, of communicating with anyone is to make him/her feel that we care and cherish. That cannot be done through a medium of transience like the SMS,” reads Thampu’s letter to all students.
Emphasizing his experiences, the principal said the medium was “high art” to him – something he used to “give the finest expression of his feelings towards everyone”.
Students can, during their summer break, write a handwritten 400-500 word letter to anyone they feel close to or strongly about. The letters can be mailed to the principal by July 25, after which a panel will decide the best letters based on “the richness of feelings/emotions, sincerity of expression and legibility in writing”.
The first, second and third selected entries will win cash prizes and an anthology of the best letters will be uploaded on the college website, the principal said.
Thampu also plans to get 25 schools to take part in the contest in an attempt to reintroduce students to the art of letter writing.
“I also plan, in the second phase, to involve 25 schools. All schools, after organising a letter writing competition, will have to submit their best letters to the college. The college panel will then select the top five letters and these students will be honoured in the college. The plan is to not just reintroduce students to the lost art but also to reduce the overawe surrounding Stephens, since during interviews, I have seen students are overawed because they haven’t even experienced the college,” Thampu said.