We live in a digital age. Everyone knows it, almost everyone uses it. The entire world has adapted to it. It’s a great thing.
Except that it means that not only do I get garbage shoved through my door every day, I also receive a plethora of emails that are spam, gibberish or general rubbish. I’m promised that Britney and Christina want to be my friend, which might actually be true once I’ve collected the millions of dollars that I’ve won and enlarged my non-existent penis by up to 70%.
I’m sure we’re all in the same position. Even when I get emails or facebook messages from friends, it’s great but it’s not that personal. Few things are as exciting as sifting through all the trash that comes through the mail and finding a hand addressed envelope.
Most of us send lots of emails. The majority of us also use facebook; and there are literally hundreds of other ways to connect online. We text, call and skype. But very few of us write letters any more. I, personally, am a compulsive letter writer. If I know your address, it’s reasonably likely that at some point you’ll receive a letter from me.
There’s something really special about receiving something that someone has taken the time to sit down and write, then walked to the mailbox and sent all the way to you, passing through countless hands on the way. It’s a little bit of them. Seeing my mum’s handwriting on an envelope is like a tiny little hug. Seeing an email isn’t. It’s just not the same.
I’ve had pen pals all over the world. Some of them are long term relationships. I wrote to a girl in Romania for years. Some you only send one or two letters. But all of them mean something. They mean, I took the time to stop everything else that I was doing and communicate with you. They didn’t write it on their phone waiting in line for a coffee. They don’t expect a speedy response. But they wanted to tell you a little something. And you can hold it in your hands.
It’s easy to lose contact with people. Email makes it super easy to send a couple of lines to keep in touch. And I’m not negating that; it’s useful, it’s quick and I do it all the time. But letters give that little bit of something extra. It’s a great way of getting to know people. When I lived in the UK it was unusual for me to go a week without receiving a letter from someone in Newfoundland. I exchanged Christmas cards with the ladies from my local Newfoundland post office. And it made me feel great! It might seem strange that I’m writing this all on an online blog, but I’m not trying to dispute the good points of digital communication. I’m just putting it out there; we could all send more letters.
Everyone has a friend who’s away from home for whatever reason and would love to hear from someone. You can write letters to troops serving abroad. You could write love notes to your other half or funny stories to your Nan. For $0.61 you could send a letter and maybe make someone’s day. Don’t get me wrong, you might not get anything back. But I’m sure they’d appreciate it.