Snail Mail Me Your Emails | Daily News

Snail Mail Me Your Emails

Last week, when I realized technology was turning me into a 'pancake' making me more stupid than I need be, I kept away from my smartphone and laptop as much as I can. Trying to get back to the days when internet was unheard of, when I dutifully wrote letters to my grandmother and uncles and aunts, yesterday I started to write a letter to one of my former lecturers who refuses to have anything to do with electronic mail (my usual mode of contacting her was through her daughter who uses email). Alas, I found myself staring at the A4 page in front of me feeling as though I fell through the hole along with Alice. When I finally managed to write the first few words, my handwriting looked worse than that of my eight-year-old.

It appears I am not the only one who has lost touch with the art of letter writing. Think about it. In the past few days you may well have scribbled out a shopping list on the back of an envelope or stuck a Post-it on your desk. Perhaps you added a comment to your child’s report or made a few quick notes during a meeting. But when did you last draft a long text by hand? How long ago did you write your last “proper” letter, using a pen and a sheet of writing paper? Isn't it true that, like the rest of us, you have switched completely from writing to typing?

Even though no one can say precisely how much handwriting has declined, a British survey of 2,000 people gives some idea of the extent of the damage. According to the study, one in three respondents had not written anything by hand in the previous six months. On average they had not put pen to paper in the previous 41 days. People undoubtedly write more than they suppose, but one thing is certain: with information technology we can write so fast that handwritten copy is fast disappearing from our lives.

Accordingly, in a recent Wall Street Journal article on “The Lost Art of the Handwritten Note” author Philip Hensher addresses how our increasing reliance on typing and texting is making the handwritten note go the way of the fax machine. He says, "The ready communication through electronic means that has replaced the handwritten letter is wonderful. But we have definitely lost something here, and those Skype, email and text exchanges won't be treasured in the way that my teenage letters, scribbled journals and postcards have been for years." I couldn't agree more. Recently, when moving houses, I unearthed a shoebox full of handwritten notes from old friends, fans of my articles and authors whose books I had reviewed, including the late, legendary Tissa Abeysekera. Had those been sent to me via email or text, I definitely would not still have them - and they wouldn't have had the same sentimental value.

I have often heard young people ask if,after a job interview or informational meeting, they should send a thank you via email or snail mail. Experts suggest they should do both. “The speed of an email foll0w-up is great but it can often get buried in a busy person's in-box (or even get lost in the "junk mail" folder if you're sending it from an unfamiliar email address). In this day and age, when sadly we're getting fewer and fewer letters in the mail, a handwritten thank you note, well-crafted on good stationary, will make a candidate stand out from others who chose not to take that extra, personal step.”

This might be harder for those who are younger than us, who have grown up in an entirely digital world. A world in which Hallmark stores barely exist because people now send e-vites and e-cards. Where getting on the phone with their school friends seems foreign when they could just make plans via text messages and Facebook. And where every student has a laptop, smartphone - and likely even a tablet device - before they have gotten through their teen years.

But there is still something to be said for taking the time to hand-write your thoughts - whether it be your feelings for a loved one, condolences for a friend who has experienced a loss, or a thank you to someone who has taken the time to help you with your career - and send that real letter or card through the good old Sri Lanka postal service (they could certainly use the business). Moreover, research has shown that the general act of writing by hand can promote quite a few physical and mental benefits, from improving learning abilities to fostering a more positive outlook on life.

So, let's not lose the art of letter writing completely lest our memories and sentiments disappear into Internet purgatory when our in-boxes automatically delete old files. Whether you are trying to cultivate a little romance, nurture a friendship or simply stay connected with loved ones lets send a letter or postcard once in a while. And, yes, if I could have hand-written and posted this story to all of you who are reading it right now, I would have. And I would love to invite you to give me your feedback via handwritten letters too, but… I guess like rainbows, snail mail shouldn't happen all the time.

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1. No one likes an empty mailbox

Have you ever gone to your mailbox filled with the expectation that it will be filled to the brim with lovely letters and then, upon opening, find only a flyer for pizza? If this sounds familiar, never fear for the solution is as creative as it is easy! Simply write to your friends and relatives and favorite celebrity. I can't promise that Beyonce will write back but a girl can dream. Even though your celebrity of choice may not respond, it's likely your friend at school wants to receive mail as much as you do and will, therefore, be a committed pen pal. Say goodbye to that empty mailbox!

2. Stamps!

Contrary to popular belief, stamps are not just for that one kid in school who had a collection. Shout out to the Postal Service for providing us with creative decoration for our handwritten letters.

3. Save them as a keepsake

If you start now, you can document this transformative time in your life through letters between you and your chosen recipient. Eventually, you'll have a collection of memories that you can reflect on in your golden years.

4. You'll become more thoughtful

I believe we've all sent a text that, upon further inspection, could have been worded better. Well, one of the benefits of the written word is that we tend to think more critically when writing something on that very expensive stationery than we would when sending a quick text. Through snail mail, you'll become more thoughtful with your words. Who knows, maybe you're the next Wordsmith and you just haven't realized because you've been sending poorly constructed text messages.


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