Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Magic of Moving Backwards

This year, I started writing letters.  Not emails, real paper-and-envelope letters.  Real sit-down-and-hand-write letters to friends and family.  And you know what?  It was fantastic.

I used to be an avid letter writer.  For many years, I had a pen pal that I was paired with through a PBS  show called Big Blue Marble, and wrote to dozens of people I met on 4-H, FFA, and other trips.  It was back before I received bills in the mail, so letters meant I got mail.

Obviously, I like the internet.  I have made lots of friends on it, and I really enjoy the blog world.  But the internet has also enabled a lot of hatred, ignorance, and bigotry.  Even on my harmless little blog, I have received some pretty nasty comments from people who cannot tolerate people with opinions other than their own, and who feel that everyone who disagrees with them must be socialists or nazis.  I think the internet has made us even more gullible with urban legends and lies flying around so fast that it is almost impossible for real facts to catch them.  It has given a forum to those who choose to disregard any facts they disagree with, and to proclaim opinions on subjects of which they are almost totally ignorant.  My personal email box has become cluttered with advertisements, offers to enlarge anatomical parts I am completely without, solicitations for Scentsy (seriously, is EVERYONE selling that stuff now?), and viral emails, which are generally so outrageous that it's hard to believe anyone anywhere being foolish enough to believe them.  But letters have none of this.  No one sits down and dashes off 30 letters to pass around the latest Obama rumor.  No one gets out stationery and an envelope to pass along fake cancer-risk claims or claims that somehow Obama is Hitler because they seem to interpret the extermination of 6 million Jewish people as some sort of universal healthcare plan.  Thankfully, sharing nonsense is not worth the price of a stamp.

Letters are much slower, and I think I like slow.  And why not?  Why do we think everything has to be instantaneous?  I like cell phones, but refuse to get one that gives me my email.  Why would I want that? If I'm away from the computer, that means I'm doing something--maybe something fun or interesting, or maybe it involves my friends.  Whatever it is, it's highly unlikely that I need to get email while I'm doing it.  I think slow makes us nicer.  Maybe that extra time gives us the judgment and tact that the internet seems to be lacking.

So, I will continue my slow little life as it is:  no "smartphone," no e-reader, no "twitter."  And I will continue to write letters.  If I need frustration, there's always the gardening.............

3 comments:

LoriU said...

I still communicate with a few people by snail mail. Mostly they are older and don’t have access to email - as an example... my parents. But there is at least one hazard…

On occasion I'll forward them a joke that I think they will really enjoy... and by "forward" I mean print it out, put it in an envelope, address the envelope, put a stamp on it, and put it in the mail. Four days later they call to tell me it was really funny... then I have to have them tell me what the joke was, because by then I've forgotten. :)

Mandy said...

Thanks for sharing your opinions, Toni. I do so agree about letters. There is something so special about receiving a letter - it is a truly tactile experience. Writing takes time, a valuable commodity these days. This makes receiving one so much more special than an email.
I haven't written a letter in ages. It's about time I sat down and put pen to paper.

Cindi V. Walton said...

I LOVE to write letters. I sent two letters to friends as their birthday presents. There's just something warm about a letter.

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