For the millennial-and-younger crowd, the idea of having a pen pal seems nonsensical. With Facebook and email and Skype all available 24 hours a day–all for free, and all with instant gratification–the value added of letter-writing isn’t exactly obvious. And they have a point. Other than an occasional card from Grandma, young people only know life with real-time, digitally-driven communication. Instead of phone calls with friends, it’s texting. Instead of flipping through photo albums, it’s Instagram and Snapchat. Instead of writing a thank-you note, it’s Paperless Post. The two, however, modern and traditional, need not be mutually exclusive, according to the people behind the new app and social network, lettrs. In fact, they believe there is a virtue in more personal connections and that we all need a reminder to appreciate “the art of slower communication.”

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The lettrs platform, contrary to its mission, is actually pretty advanced. The primary function of lettrs begins with the Writing Desk, pictured above. So used to Gmail and typing with the same nondescript font whether it’s your new boyfriend or your coworker, lettrs’ different themes allow us not only to customize but send “the feel” of something special to our someones special. Unlike an ordinary email to which we’re alerted, lettrs digital letters are sent to personal P.O. Boxes in the cloud; in order to open them, you must actively check your box, either online or through the app. Lettrs is optimized for text and voice dictation, and can facilitate snail mail delivery for those who prefer to send an old-school experience. To store your correspondences, lettrs offers the charmingly-named Shoebox (private) and Fridge (public) options.

In an attempt to connect new friends across the world (there are currently test users in 170 countries), lettrs also serves as a social hangout where people can post Open Letters, optionally tagged by keyword and location, to the wider lettrs community. Even for those users who don’t choose to share their own Open Letters, the platform’s search function allows them to read others’ letters and find potential pen pals with similar interests and experiences. In a digital landscape where the trend is more ephemeral and in many ways more impersonal, lettrs is a unique and welcome new addition.

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