I was talking with a friend of mine, who lives several hours away, and we discussed the fact that no one of our generation uses the mail as a means for communication through letters. The two of us decided about a year or so ago that while using email for some means of communication we would write letters back and forth. In the letter I received yesterday he noted his collection of correspondence I have sent him over the past year, and beleives it will be something to hand down one day to my daughter when I am old. It seems to me most people I talk with only use the mail for bills, and the occasional card depending on the situation. I enjoy receiving something in the mail other than bills and magazines I don’t subscribe to. In fact, as soon as I get a stamp I’m sending a letter to my long distance friend. But, does anyone still send mail (other than Hallmark cards) to friends or loved ones via “Snail mail?”
I do. There’s something special about a hand-written letter, or even a hand-written note in a card sent for no other reason that saying “hey, how are you?”
Maybe I’m just a romantic at heart.
I love getting personal, fun mail. I send thank you cards via snail mail (you simply must!) and I write to my brother who doesn’t have a computer (and didn’t have a phone until recently). My dad receives letters from my mom’s sister occasionally, but it is indeed a dying art.
I’ve recently thought about this topic myself, in part because a lot of the non-fiction I’ve read lately deals with history. Many of the personal histories of our forebears are reconstructed from letters and journal/diary entries, which at the time probably didn’t seem very important, but decades or centuries later, are extremely valuable. They detail the trials and tribulations of pioneers’ journeys across the western U.S., they provide glimpses into military leaders’ personal thoughts while preparing for an invasion, and they let us examine the relationship between John and Abigail Adams, for instance. Imagine trying to write a biography of someone, especially someone who is no longer living, without access to their personal letters.
A lot of the communication that takes place today between friends and loved ones takes place over the phone, for which there is no permanent record, or via e-mail, for which there is a permanent record only if the participants happen to archive their messages or print out hard copies. There will always be records of major events that happen to all of us, including noted Persons Of Historical Significance, but I think a lot of the minor (but possibly important eventually) events that happen to Persons Not Of Historical Significance are getting lost.
Even if we don’t wind up being famous, I think our personal descendents will find written letters fascinating – they’re a glimpse into our lives that e-mail (probably) and phone (certainly) communication simply can’t provide.
I’ve made it a goal of mine to write more letters that are mailed (not that I think I’m writing about anything that needs to be preserved for the ages or anything – but someone, someday, may find it interesting).
I think the communication that you and your friend are pursuing is a wonderful idea.
I hope kids still do this. When I was in college, way back in the 80s, my boyfriend (who went to another school) had a job manning the front desk at night in his dorm. He would write me a letter every single night, sometimes long, sometimes just a note or a card, depending on his study load. I still have all those letters in a crate in my basement, and even though that guy is long gone (at least, out of my life…he is still alive & well), I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of them. I think it’s cool to have that record of young love & friendship, not to mention the history of what college life was like in the 80s.
We think so as well. I’ve tried to expand this idea with other friends, but they prefer the faster means of technology. I did find it interesting that pen pals are still around. A friend of mine’s daughter is currently sending letters back and forth to a girl around the same age in Europe. I wasn’t even sure that still existed.
I borrowed some money from my grandparents and agreed to pay them back with a check once a month. I send a letter along with the check. They have email and send out mass emails about their lives every so often, but I love writing notes to them (sometimes 2 full pages) about what’s going on with me every month. I know they will keep the letters and love reading them.
I started out hand-writing but quickly realized that after 5 years of being out of school and pretty much not writing anything by hand anymore that my handwriting is HORRIBLE. Since my grandparents are in their 80’s, I decided I needed to type my letters in 12pt Arial for them.
My grandfather has been keeping daily journals since about 1980 (and has some sparse earlier ones). I have my eye on them as the only thing I want when he dies. My dad flipped through some and said they are very mundane - “Had toast with honey for breakfast, drove to visit Ernie and Alma. Had a nice visit. Alma made roast. In bed by 10 pm.” - but I don’t care. I find them fascinating. Much better than any blog
As for writing to my friends…no. I barely manage to see them in person once a month.
I write snail mail letters constantly. I write them for the following reasons:
- Birthday, anniversary, etc.
- If I know a friend if feeling down. I know how good it makes one feel to see a real letter in the mail, rather than a cold e-mail.
- And to India, to practice my Hindi writing and to communicate with the old folks who don’t get on e-mail much.
I love e-mail but I will single-handedly keep snail mail alive if that’s what it takes!
I send cards all the time, and I’ll write something in it, but the days of sending pages of notebook paper scrawled with a purple pen are long gone. Greeting cards always seem to say exactly what I want, but better.
After my grandmother died we found some journals and notes she had written while in the hospital when she had polio. She didn’t write down anything much about her condition, but wrote about the other women who were there for whatever reason. The majority of it deals with the conversations they had, how some would sneak out at night, and so on. Very interesting, I thought. I plan on getting everything typed out, printed and sent off to her kids so they can enjoy them.
I pride myself on writing funny, long, interesting letters, to about a dozen friends around the world, and I thoroughly enjoy getting letters from them, too.
When someone gets into e-mail, our corresondence tapers off to brief notes, stupid attachments, etc., and the friendship seems to taper off, too.
I love to write letters but I don’t do it as much as I used to because NO ONE EVER WRITES BACK!!! They will call me or email me to say, thanks for the letter, or I got your card, etc. but they will. not. write. back. I’m even getting fewer and fewer Christmas and birthday cards these days.
I have a 7-yr old niece though who loves to write and receive letters, so I make it a point to send her little notes every now and then.
Don’t get me started on Thank You cards!!!
I love this idea. I have a friend who recently moved across the country, and you’ve all inspired me to send her a letter rather than the email she’s expecting. Won’t the mailman be surprised – I pay my bills on-line, so he never takes anything out of the box!
I do send snail mail letters occasionally - usually if I’m sending someone money or something, or a birthday card, et cetera - but I also use the computer to type the letter out because you just can’t read my handwriting. So…I dunno.
I do like getting letters, and I don’t have a problem sending them, it’s just that most of the people who live far enough away for me to have the need to send letters to, have e-mail and prefer that means of communication. shrugs
Anything not relating directly to the internet or the computer is a dying art nowadays. It’s sad.
I sometimes still use snail mail. Every now and then I’ll see a magazine article that I think someone would appreciate, or an advertisement that I think would make someone laugh, and I’ll rip it out of the periodical and mail it to them along with a short, handwritten note. I’m big on birthday/holiday cards, of course, but I also believe in sometimes sending a card for no particular reason. I blame the 2 years that I spent working at a Hallmark store while in college.
Less frequently, I will type a letter to someone and mail it in lieu of sending an e-mail. I type for a living, and have for the past 13 years, and my longhand has suffered as a result. My writing is still very legible, and I’m still quite cabaple of taking notes during a meeting or a class, but sometimes writing a letter can actually become painful. Plus, there are one or two fonts that I really like, and sometimes I’m in the mood to send something a little “fancier” than an e-mail. (More often than not, though, an impulse to type up a letter will result in me simply calling the person on the phone.)
But most of the time, my correspondence with friends/family is via e-mail. I see nothing impersonal or “bad” about e-mail: the information is the same, the amount of effort is the same (for me, anyway), it’s just the delivery method that’s different … and faster, and free. For quick notes, and especially for notes about online things (“thought you might like this website”), I think that e-mail is quite appropriate. The only downside is the glurge: no matter how often I ask to please not have jokes forwarded to me, I still get them from my mom and a cousin or two. Oh well. I also find e-mail exceedingly useful when I’m getting to know someone from online, especially when it comes to internet dating: I’m more comfortable telling someone my e-mail address right away than my street address.
I really think the term “snail mail” is a little unfair. A regular letter can get across the country in a couple of days. And how much do they charge you? Thirty-nine cents. I that’s a pretty good deal.
And those carriers? They just keep coming by. Every day. You can’t stop them.
E-mail is great for anything you would say in a quick phone call, but it really makes written communication shrivel and die. I think we all love to settle down with a nice long letter . . . But when you see a looooong e-mail, you think, “Oh kee-rist.” Printing it out and reading it like a letter is the only pleasant way to deal with that.
I keep a pretty active paper correspondence. I’m told I have nice (if small) handwriting, a good clean engineer’s block-print, and it just feels a lot more real than email. Email is just bits spewing out of the ether, but paper mail is tangible - someone held it, touched it, wrote it, and folded it before sending it to you. It’s a little touch that shows someone cares.
We were just talking about this at the museum in which I work the other day. Letters and diaries are going into gradual extinction and historians of the future will suffer for it. It made me sad, because some of the most fun I’ve had at the museum has been reading and transcribing letters/diaries. As you said, they’re an incredibly rich resource of details about how people really lived.
Actually, it’s not only letters and diaries we lack. People of the future may look back to our time and see nothing but a gaping hole in museum collections. No one ever thinks to donate modern items, even though we’ve asked specifically for them in our newsletter and ads. People don’t save things like they used to, to be reused or cherished as momentos.
I’ve tried to stay optimistic, that things will start coming in later, but I have to be honest-- it may not happen. Our collection stops around 1975, about the same time as everything became disposable.
Yes indeed the carriers!! Out in all weathers, up early in the morning when most of us are curled up nice and warm and asleep
But will the day dawn when the carrier of handwritten LETTERS is no more and regular mail is used only for packets/parcels and the like, stuff that can’t be sent via e-mail.
Already I receive e-cards for birthdays, anniversaries and one lazy bugger even sends me an e-mail Christmas card even tho’ I always send a REAL card to him and his family.
I sure hope the postie doesn’t die out, our cat looks forward to seeing him and if outdoors she will rush to greet him probably 'cos she knows he’s carrying a cat treat biscuit thingy.