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by Abigail Van Buren

Man of Letters Feels Lost in 'Modern' Communication

DEAR ABBY: What has happened to communication in America? When I write to someone, I discuss what is going on in my life, inquire about the health, happiness, and what is going on in the lives of mutual friends. I generally try to carry on a written conversation that will delight the reader.

If I receive a reply, it is usually on a scrap of paper, or written to be mailed to 20 other people, and starts out, "Hi, just a short note to keep in touch ..."

Maybe they should just say, "Hi, just a short note to say I can't be bothered to formulate a real letter. I am too lazy, illiterate, insensitive, or all of the above."

Abby, are people's lives so shallow they have nothing to say? Or are they so busy that they have nothing to give of themselves in simple written language?

Is it possible in this modern age that communication has been disconnected or is no longer in service? -- KYLE

DEAR KYLE: The sample letter you offered is better than nothing (almost). The most I can say for it is: The recipient will know that the writer is still among the living.

In my view, it's not a matter of communication "no longer in service"; it's just different. Times have changed and people are busier now. Short notes, form letters, faxes or quick phone calls are time-savers. And for those into computers, electronic communication is the "in" thing.