[Wayback Repost] Why do letters seem more daunting than email?

This post was originally published in January of 2012. It’s reappearing today as a Wayback Repost, so you might see some old comments below. Feel free to continue the conversation!

image source unknownOne of the things that I’ve found interesting in the response to the Month of Letters Challenge is the notion that mailing something everyday is too much. The idea that writing a letter, postcard, addressing socks… what have you, is somehow more difficult than other forms of communication.

How many tweets, status updates, and emails do you send in a day? I’ll grant that you do not need to look up an address for those. You do not need to  scrounge for paper, put a stamp on a page, or walk to the mail box. I grant that it is easier to click “Send” than any of those.

I suspect, however, that the physical is the smaller of the difficulties. Because the only personal things that come in the mail now are Things of Import, like wedding invitations or birth announcements, we’ve attached an unconscious weight to mail. If one is going to send a letter, then it seems like it should be something significant.

Not really.

I mean, that’s nice and all, but the significance is the connection and the fact that it is tangible proof that you thought about someone specific. Where a tweet expresses my thoughts about me, a postcard is for someone else.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a heavy social media user and I love twitter. This Month of Letters Challenge is not about dissing anything modern. It is about finding out what the archaic medium of postal mail is good for. Much the same way photography did not replace painting, but taught us what painting was uniquely good at, postal mail is good for something different than electronic communication.

Do you still feel daunted?

Then, let me put this into perspective for you.

  • A postcard is a slow tweet or status update.
  • A letter is a delayed blog post or an email.

It’s just that it is for an audience of one.

18 Replies to “[Wayback Repost] Why do letters seem more daunting than email?”

  1. Having been a letter writer for several years now, I don’t particularly find this challenge all that difficult, other than remembering to do it every day instead of when the whim takes me to write. And since I may not have a penpal’s letter to answer, then I need to think outside my normal circle of penpals and write to others. I saw this as an opportunity to reconnect with a few old penpals that had lapsed, family members that live outside of the city, friends I haven’t seen in a while, and strangers or persons of stature. I think it’s a great challenge and maybe it will even boost the joy of those who process all this mail and deliver it to us. 🙂

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  2. I love your post. And I totally agree.

    Email, tweets n twitters, FB comments all have their place and moment in time where they are the appropriate way to respond.

    However, sending a letter, postcard, or notecard is the only way to connect with someone on a more personal, even intimate, level.

    The act of sending a missive does take time, but more importantly it takes thought. What paper will I use? What will I add (stickers, washi, etc.)? What will I say? Combined these choices will be a bright spot in someone’s day. Added bonus? It was created specifically for them.

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  3. Great article on postcard apps but you should also take a look at Postsnap’s easy to use postcard app.
    http://www.postsnap.com
    https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/postsnap-best-postcard-sending/id650814139?mt=8
    The app offers a number of unique features compared to the other apps reviewed including:
    – Guest checkout with Apple Pay
    – Extensive personalization options including collage layouts, stylish borders which can be adjusted in size with a slider and the option to add editable text in a variety of font types and colors and position it anywhere on the cards
    – iPhone and iPad support
    – Apple Pencil support
    – Facebook and Instagram integration
    – US postal address verification and UK postcode lookup
    Cards are printed and posted in our facilities in the UK, USA and Australia on the same or next working day and so cards typically arrive quickly. Enjoy!
    Stephen Homer
    Founder
    Postsnap

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  4. I too love journals to pull apart for writing. For me the most important aspect of the paper is the pattern. I love to have some colour and some design on the paper. I’ve managed to find a number of nice colours and designs at one of my local “Home Sense” discount stores in the book section. Most of the small journals are a perfect size to fit in the envelopes I use. If not I just give one edge a bit of a trim (but sometimes I really like the ripped edge look too!) ;P

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