What's wrong with instant communication?
Zaymon @ LetterDesk, May 2021
Hi there. I’m Zaymon.
My goal is to kick off a new generation of letter writing and long form communication.
This all started a few months ago when I was thinking about why keeping in contact with my long distance friends over (instant messaging app of choice) wasn’t working out.
For a few months I noted how each IM interaction made me feel and had a few discussions about communication and instant messaging with friends and colleagues. I couldn’t put my finger on the problems for a while. The first thing to do was better define instant messaging:
A written conversation over the course of time in the form of short messages delivered immediately.
After some formative conversations I started to piece together the problems:
A modern convention with damaging consequences.
The short reason why I hate them is simple; read receipts create a psychological pressure to respond as soon as possible. It’s stressful! The result of this is I end up not reading and contemplating a message until I have time to reply. As a result, my replies are much shallower in depth of thinking than I would like. I’m terrible at coming up with good advice and opinions on the spot. I want the time and space to think about really considered responses, but in the modern era of communication leaving someone ‘on read’ is a sign that you don’t value them.
We are so accustomed to the impermanence of information and communication. Websites and blogs disappear. Messages are obliterated into the void under the deluge of new ones. Platforms like Slack and Discord emphasise ephemerality, encouraging the re-seeking of information instead of promoting archival retrieval.
Instant message chains aren’t conducive to deep conversations. For a meaningful conversation to take place over instant messaging, the conversation either has to span a long period of time (hours - days) or the messages have to be large. Trying to find a shared hour or two between people on opposite sides of the planet is a nightmare!
I love being engaged in interesting conversations but I hate being chained to my phone for a few hours waiting for each short response and responding in kind. The fear of this has such a powerful effect; it stops me from beginning new conversations because I know I won’t have the time to see them through.
Email sucks. It might even be soul sucking. Trying to have a meaningful, emotional conversation in an inbox filled with corporate newsletters, promotional offers and other spam adjacent content isn’t going to cut it. Not to mention most email clients are hideous, and if they aren’t hideous there’s no common viewing experience between correspondents. What’s the point of crafting a beautiful email if Outlook is going to smother it?
We’re already primed to react to emails with anxiety. I get little mental hot stove touches when I see an email notification light up my phone. Each one usually represents some marketing content I didn’t ask for, or a to-do item I am going to have to respond to.
⚡️ An app for letter writing and delightful communication.
I miss that sense of excited anticipation that I used to have when expecting an email from pen pals; the joy when receiving a carefully constructed letter.
LetterDesk aims to provide an environment where contemplation and depth are the norm. I’ve long been searching for a platform that would give me the space to have more authentic connections with people online.
I never found it. So I decided to build it! 🏗
LetterDesk automatically decides when to deliver your message. Just like good 'ol snail mail without having to drive to the post office, pay for stamps, worry about your mail being lost or delivered 6 months later than you thought it would be.
Random delivery time will start around 1-3 days, although the mean delivery time is very much up for experimentation. Not knowing when a letter was sent to you is critically important. It adds a layer of indirection, you won’t know if someone has waited a few days to respond to your letter or if they wrote the response straight away. I want to give people the chance to set aside time in their week to sit and write in-depth, emotive and authentic responses.
I’m spending a lot of the effort in developing LetterDesk to make sure the writing and reading experience for letters is great. It’s important to provide clean UI’s that let the user zone in and write longer responses without distraction.
I want you to feel joy when receiving a letter instead of the dread of obligation, and I will do everything I can to make it beautiful ✨.
If you want to keep hearing about the development of LetterDesk please consider subscribing: