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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Falling out of Touch

posted by Lee McKenzie

I love sending and receiving mail.

Not email, voice mail, twits, texts or pokes...I’m talking about real mail. Snail mail. The kind of mail that requires a little thought and a little time and a little effort.

I have a box of stationary filled with note cards, pens, stickers and stamps, and I enjoy sitting at my desk with a cup of tea and writing a note to a family member or friend. I enjoy the walk to the post office to mail it. I know exactly when mail is delivered to my home, give or take ten minutes, and finding a note from a family member or friend is the highlight of my day.

Tucked in my filing cabinet are several file folders filled with cards and letters I’ve received over the years. I still have a bundle of letters my grandparents sent thirty to forty years ago, and from time to time I take them out and read that familiar old handwriting. When I do, I still feel connected to them.

There’s no denying that electronic media provides instant gratification, but with all that typing, sending, replying and deleting, I can’t help wondering if we’re actually staying in touch or mostly keeping busy. Call me old fashioned, but I really hope the post office never goes out of business.

Until next time,
The Writer Side of Life



At 6:47 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

I love a good, old-fashioned letter, too. However, I have to tout the new means of communicating as well. I was able to reconnect with friends I'd lost touch with over the years through Facebook, which is pretty cool!

At 8:52 AM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Mo, I've reconnected with old friends via the internet, too, and I really value that. But call me sentimental - you'd be right if you did! - in the future I don't see myself cherishing an old email the way I do a packet of letters or a carefully chosen card.

At 9:54 AM, Blogger Rachel said...

I love the speed of being able to chat with people far away by email; it can be much more like a conversation than a letter.

But like you, Lee, I have some old letters that reconnect me to my past in a way that nothing else does.

At 10:05 AM, Anonymous Jodie said...

This is an interesting topic. Last week I found the perfect card for my daughter. I wrote a message inside and popped it into the mail.
When she received it, she phoned immediately. She was stunned. And loved it. As we live close to each other,she was surprised that I would try to connect with her that way. Emails are quickly erasable, but cards last longer.

At 10:19 AM, Blogger Megan Kelly said...

Lee, I'm not as sentimental, but I admit to saving a few notes, and emails in a file, that have touched me. Connecting via email is easy as I know that's where my friends are. But I send cards when I remember a date in enough time. I buy cards and postcards etc and stick them in a file by month for those events. I like mail, and having just gotten a new mailman who comes at a different time of day, I'm still adjusting. Mail still matters--grad announcements, most wedding invites, etc are sent via real mail still. My friends have learned I seldom go to a site to read an ecard, no matter the occasion, but send me a paper card and I'll call. :)

At 10:29 AM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Lee, I too have boxes and files of old letters and cards that mean the world to me. I am still a big letter writer and while my friends aren't always the best correspondents they always tell me via e-mail or telephone how much they love my letters.

And I keep folders of e-mails that mean a lot to me.

I sometimes feel that letter writing is a lost art, as is the hand-written thank you note. My brothers and I still write them, for the most part because we are TERRIFIED of our Mom ! LOL

At 11:11 AM, Blogger Judy said...

I've kept a few cards, but not most of them, since they were an "obligation" like "I-never-keep-in-touch-with-you-even-though-we're-in-the-same-city-but-you're-on-my-Christmas-card-list-so-here's-the-card-I'm-sending-everyone-this-year-with-the-photocopy-brag-letter-enclosed." I used to send cards all the time. Then I discovered the internet where I met most of my current friends. But you're right, there is something about taking the time to pick out a card for someone you already keep in touch with, handwriting a message, and mailing it. That unlooked for surprise. One of my friend's referred to it as the chocolate orange in your Christmas stocking. :-)

At 1:56 PM, Blogger Marin Thomas said...


I still send "Thank you" notes the old-fashioned way through the mail, but I confess...the older I become...the worse my handwriting becomes. I remember when my daughter entered third grade and her teacher said we're no longer teaching cursive writing because your children's generation will no longer find a use for it. Neither one of my kids writes cursive--they only print. Kind of sad...

At 2:09 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

I'm not sure exactly when I began using the computer for nearly every communication task. It's just something that happened. And the less I use my hand-writing skills, the worse my script becomes. I suppose that is logical, but these days it seems I don't even sign a check or credit card slip anymore.

At 6:49 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Rachel, probably my favorite thing about email is the ability to have a conversation with someone, especially when that someone is in another part of the world.

At 6:52 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Jodie, what a sweet thing to do for your daughter. I send cards to my kids, too, even though one of them lives in the same city. Sometimes it's a "thank you" for something they've done, and sometime it's just a "Mom's thinking about you" card.

At 6:55 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Megan, your card file is a super idea! I've seen birthday books along a similar vein. There's a page for each month, and the page is actually an envelope that holds that month's cards. If I was more organized, I'd give it a try.

At 6:56 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

LOL, Louisa! Your mom taught you and brothers well. Hats off to her.

At 7:00 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Judy said:


LOL! This cracked me up, Judy! I receive several of those every year, but I also have a friend who does great newsletters via email, complete photos. They're very funny and the "stories" tend to be about things like the July camping trip at the peak of mosquito season. That's one letter I look forward to every year.

At 7:05 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Marin and Delle, I have to confess that my handwriting is dreadful. Over the years it has morhed into blend of script and printing, mostly because no one, including me sometimes, could read it!

And good point, Delle, re: not even having to sign checks and credit card slips. Now everything is done online, protected by security chips, etc. Those are good things, IMO.

At 7:45 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Lee, I have a desk drawer stuffed with notes of different types, ready to send the appropriate message at a moment's notice...but lately I'm slower about getting around to those moments ;-).

Like you, I save and treasure cards I've received. I print out special e-mails and save those, too.

At 8:32 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

I'm terrible at writing letters and sending cards. But I'm really good on email (grin)

I just read a biography of Lady Caroline Lamb, based on, (in the early 1800s)letters. Makes me wonder if anyone will know us, when we only reveal ourselves in cyberspace.

At 9:04 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Hi Lee, I agree. There's something special about getting a letter in the mail. But I'm all for technology, too! I wonder if a lot more people are communicating now that they don't have to write a letter and they can just pop on the computer? Hmmmm

Interesting post. Thanks for sharing!

At 9:36 PM, Blogger Christine said...

My darling aunt, over 80, has lost her ability to write legibly due to arthritis in her hands. The computer keyboard is her salvation.

I love email/FB but it can lose a lot in the fact it is a bit too immediate. We don't take time to reflect upon what we're writing and sending.

When I sent my thank you notes to my editors/agents and other people I met at the RWA conference, I sent personal cards, handwritten. BUT I wrote all the notes out on the computer first for fear of messing up my thoughts on paper. Even so, I still ripped up two badly handwritten envelopes!

But I am glad I too the time to handwrite the notes. I love receiving them myself.

At 8:48 AM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Terry, I go through phases when I send out lots of cards and others when I don't seem to find or make the time. This is a good reminder that I should make time for this more often.

At 8:52 AM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Diane, that biography reminded me of 84 Charring Cross Road, which is one of my all-time favorite films. It's based on a series of letters exchanged by a writer in NYC and bookseller in London. I've also read the book several times and seen a theatrical production, and loved both.

At 8:54 AM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Theresa, between email and Facebook, it might be difficult to people who aren't communicating!

At 8:59 AM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Christine said:

I love email/FB but it can lose a lot in the fact it is a bit too immediate. We don't take time to reflect upon what we're writing and sending.

Wow, Christine. This is so true, and definitely something I've been guilty of on more than one occasion. Thanks for reminding us of the importance of reflection.

And good for you for sending thank you notes to the people who made your conference experience so worthwhile. I'll bet you're among the minority of conference goers who took the time, and by taking the time, you stood out as being professional and classy.


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