With the invention of email, fewer and fewer people are writing old-fashioned pen and paper letters anymore. Is it a good or bad thing, or just a sign of the times?
I honestly can’t remember the last time I wrote a snail mail letter. I’ve included a hand-written note with an outgoing product, but I don’t know when I last wrote a real letter to anyone. I think it’s been a very long time. I used to when I was in my late teens and early twenties, but that was before I had access to a computer. By the time I was able to access a computer on a regular basis, everyone else owned one, and they were all using email. I think I was one of the last ones to get on that bandwagon, aside from my backwoods country relatives.
I was actually really glad for the introduction of email into my life. I could, and still can, type far faster than I can write, unless I scribble at hyper-speed and translate it later. Of course, that wouldn’t be very good for a letter to someone. I also developed problems with my wrists years ago from a motorcycle accident and repetitive use injury, so typing was far less painful than writing. After I got into email in the late 90’s, I noticed that I got a lot less regular mail. It seemed that I wasn’t the only one who preferred the new digital form of communication over pen and paper and stamps.
Now, there is something to be said for getting something hand-written now and again. Granted, you can put pretty pictures and all in an email these days, but getting a hand-written note from time to time just adds something personal to the communication. That’s why whenever I send a product out to a customer, I enclose a hand-written note. It’s my little way of letting them know that they matter by giving them something more personal than a printed invoice.
Considering how much communication is done through email these days, it continues to amaze me that prices at the postal service keep going up. You never know, maybe the lack of letters traveling through the mail is the reason they’re charging more. We send less mail so they charge us more for what we do send, and they get to stay in business. We all know the postage increases aren’t paying for better postal service, that’s for sure.
I have a feeling that aside from the notes I put out in products, my letter writing days are pretty much over. I have a tough time thinking of anyone I care about enough to send a letter to that I can’t send an email to. I even know people that will write an email, send it to a relative or friend, and have them print it out and give it to someone who doesn’t have email. They’d rather have it passed along than write it by hand.
I know some people who think that using email is lazy and impersonal, and even consider it rude in some situations. I disagree. I don’t really see any reason why an email isn’t just as good as a letter in most cases. Especially when it comes to general correspondence. For a really special occasion a letter or hand-written card might be nice, but for most things email is just as good. Email can also be cheaper for a lot of people. Why pay for a stamp when you can send an email for free? You don’t even need your own internet service or computer if you have a friend or relative nearby.
Some people out there are rallying to bring hand-written letters back into style, but I don’t think they’re going to succeed. The cost-effectiveness and convenience are more than most people would be willing to give up. I think email is here to stay for a very long time, and snail mail letters may become one of those things we tell the grand-kids about, like rotary phones and 8 track tapes.