Snail mail: The best kind of mail

Kaye Herranen

Does anyone else have that one friend who will never answer the phone, yet will give you an immediate response via text? Not to diss technology, but sometimes a good ole phone call just does the job. I feel like our generation is forgetting how to use our phones for anything other than texting, or Smartphone apps. I realized over the summer that I hate calling places to make appointments, or calling people I don’t know very well. It feels so unnatural. I almost don’t even know what to say.

Yet, when I was a child, I would easily answer a phone call from a stranger and take various messages for my parents. I had no problem calling my relatives, even if I didn’t see them that often. I had long phone conversations with friends that I had just seen at school.

Now, I only have long phone conversations with people who are far away — friends who live miles away, or family that lives out of state. Even phone conversations with my own brother are occasionally awkward.

Sometimes it can be difficult to make plans with a friend via text or to give directions. Yet we do it anyways — when our phones actually have this handy “phone” function, which would alleviate the whole problem.

Our generation has forgotten how to use the telephone.

We’ve also forgotten the art of sending mail. We all love receiving mail, yet hardly send it ourselves. Sending a piece of mail shows so much more thought and effort than just sending a text, or even an email.

I used to have to write out numerous “Thank You” cards after my birthday and Christmas. My family used to send out a yearly update letter to family and friends. We used to get Christmas cards. We used to have pen pals in school, and I’d write to my friends while I was away at summer camp.

Now, the United States Post Office is literally going bankrupt. Hardly anyone sends hand-written letters or cards anymore — which is a shame. Whenever I do get mail, it completely makes my day. A thoughtful card or letter can mean so much, and is such a kind gesture.

Last week I randomly decided to send a postcard to my Aunt Nancy. She called as soon as she got it, and seemed so surprised, so genuinely happy. She said it meant a lot that I was thinking of her. It took me all of five minutes to write the postcard, and cost me 44 cents to mail it. Yet it meant so much to her.

I know texting and emailing are usually more practical than phone calls and letters. But I really believe that mail and phone calls are still important. Sometimes it is just nice to hear a loved one’s voice, or to see their handwriting.

Texts and emails get deleted quickly, but you can always save meaningful cards or letters. Phone calls might require more of your attention span, but they are also more personal. Phone calls and mail may be old-fashioned and impractical, but they hold more meaning.

When was the last time you sent your best friend a card, just because you were thinking of them? When was the last time you talked for more than ten minutes on the phone with a relative?

Most of us can keep tabs on our friends and relatives via Facebook — but creeping online is no exchange for real communication.