Observing Snail Mail
May 28, 2013 § 9 Comments
I stumbled across an article yesterday titled “My Teenage Son Does Not Know How To Mail A Letter – I Blame Technology“. It was quite mind-boggling to realize that there’s a younger generation that has never sent or received a physical letter. That they may have no idea how to write out the address on an envelope. Time really slips by fast when you aren’t paying attention.
Growing up with a father that works in foreign services meant a lot of moving around. Every few years we would get the notice to pack our bags, hug our friends and say goodbye to the life that we have grown to love. Before the internet and email became readily available, sending letters was the only way to keep in touch (or K*I*T* according to my yearbook) with friends. International calls was an option that my parents vetoed from the start as each minute cost a small fortune.
Snail mail is by far one of the most intimate forms of communication between two people. From picking out stationary, drawing doodles and choosing the right words; every step is a process that involves precious time and effort. Each letter is personalized and unique to the addressee, making the experience even more exciting and special. None of this mass email update and send-to-all contacts nonsense that we’ve grown accustomed to.
We live in a time where we thrive on instant gratifications. Whether it is from a like, a retweet or a reblog, the satisfaction comes quickly and leaves even faster. That shot of dopamine makes us want to post more, tweet more just to feel that momentary happiness again. Like drinking soda while dehydrated, you’re left wanting more. When you receive an actual letter in your mailbox, you’re left with happiness that lingers longer than a quick Facebook wall post. Thanks to the internet, the effort and speed of maintaining relationships have both been drastically reduced. Thus receiving a letter has become especially meaningful as the time and effort to write something on a piece of paper have almost become extinct.
Snail mail may be a lost art form to the younger generation, but it is one that I cling even harder now (you’re welcome postal service.) Instead of sending out long-winded letters of all my day-to-day life updated (that’s what Twitter is for), I have turned to sending postcards. Lots and lots of postcards. The limited space for writing is a welcomed challenge for my creative brain. Sentences are replaced with haikus (as they are the only form of poetry I can manage) and doodles substituted with the picture on the back.
Picking out unique postcards has become a lovely pastime. I never hesitate to buy a stack if I stumble across a good design as it gives me more motivation to send them out. If they don’t end up in someone’s mailbox, they usually end up on my wall:
Do you still send/receive snail mail? When was the last time you received mail?
Tagged: art, communication, design, email, family, feeling old, friends, instant gratification, internet, letter, missive, musings, observations, old-school, post, postal service, postcard, relationship, snail mail, social media, stamps, technology