Saturday, August 15, 2009

On The Benefits Of Paper Correspondence

I find I may, from time to time, come across as an oddly old-fashioned young woman. As a digital media major, computer science minor, and general young person in America, I allegedly ought to be embracing technology as it comes, and thus, quick to discard what is old - including the U.S. Postal Service, which is beyond unpopular since the advent of e-mail, text messaging, and Facebook.

I had a pen-pal in my younger days, a friend who had moved across the country. We wrote in order to eschew long-distance phone charges, and because both of us had read and loved the book P.S. Longer Letter Later, which is a series of letters between friends separated by distance. Amusingly enough, its sequel was called Snail Mail No More. Unlike today's e-mailers, though, the protagonists continued to write long personal notes, taking e-mail as simply letters that arrive more quickly. Nowadays, it seems that most of the people who really check their e-mail are the people who don't have time for personal notes -- such as my father, whom I imagine has an inbox that is mostly unread. E-mail is for work, quick memos, and forwards of politics or kittens. In fact, my mother is the only person I know who actually uses her e-mail to keep in touch with people far away, like letters used to do.

I have recently begun letter-writing again. I wanted to get in touch with a few of my old teachers, and this seemed the most sensible way to do it. Even if any of them are on Facebook (and I am reasonably certain they aren't), once I "friend" someone and banter back and forth with "it's been so long!" for a bit, the conversation drops off and they rarely even appear in my News Feed again. To call that being "in touch" is at best a heinous stretch. If they are not on Facebook, it's fairly impossible to find an e-mail address in the white pages, even the online ones, especially as they often change far more frequently than a mailing address. I could call them, but it seems that would only lead to an expensive, awkward conversation, instead of a forty-four-cent note to which they may reply at their leisure.

And so, I wrote. I have received one response, so far, from the three teachers, and think I may get more. If not, I believe I may at least have a steady continuing conversation with the one for quite some time. Another friend of mine has recently asked if I would join her in pursuit of a snail mail revolution, and we will begin a correspondence once I am back at college next weekend. We will likely be better in touch than we are now through Facebook, since the complacency of reachability makes us feel "in touch" though we have not actually spoken in some time.

Thus, snail mail may actually give us more real connection than all modern technology combined. Such innovations shall not be ignored, however, but used instead for making plans and other things needing immediate attention -- though without texting, e-mail, or Facebook, we do still have the telephone.

Anyway, e-mail themes have nothing on pretty stationery. So buy some Forever stamps and write a letter, already!

1 comment:

thedavemyster said...

"Another friend of mine has recently asked if I would join her in pursuit of a snail mail revolution"

Bravo, I say! :::>