Monday, March 17, 2008

A Part Of American History Is Dying Away But Now We Can Save It!

Imagine trying to learn to write a letter for the first time if you were from somewhere so remote that you didn't have any background with the tools...the first thing you'd need is a piece of paper and a pen. What about a pen? Uh, you have to take the cap off first. Ok, now write "Dear Blah Blah Bla" on the paper. Wait, you want to rotate the paper so that the short side is at the top and the long side comes towards you and then write a bunch more hand! Ok, we've finished the letter! We're are done with the letter, but now we have to send it. We need to put the letter in an envelope - a piece of paper that is all folded up to hide and protect the letter. Now seal the envelope by licking the paper here and folding it over. Then we still need to address the mail so that the postman knows who should get the envelope. Now we need to look up the address in the address book. We put the street address on its own line, then the city and state and ZIP code. Then we need to put our return address in the upper left-hand corner of the envelope. Now we gotta find a stamp. Never mind why. You need to put it in the upper right hand corner. We're almost there. But how do you think the letter is going to get to our intended recipient? Did you think it was just going to magically leap from the desk and get there? We need to take it somewhere that the Post Office can find a mailbox. You see, letter-writing is hard.

But now it's time to switch from e-mail to free mail. In an attempt to encourage letter-writing, the post office is offering to let people mail a card to a friend for free. Until March 31, people can get a free card, postage included, which they can use to send a message to a friend. Home Box Office is covering the cost. The cable network is promoting its miniseries on John Adams, much of which is based on the letters of the second American president and his wife, Abigail. The free cards are available at by clicking on Free John Adams Greeting Card. Only one card is allowed to each letter sender.

Email is more time efficient than snail mail. Oh yeah, you can send overnight deliveries but what's the point when you can send an email and send the same information in just a matter of seconds? The only advantage I see in snail mail is if you are sending a package of some sort. Obviously, you can't send a box of cuban cigars through the Internet. There are more upsides to email though. Take greeting cards, for instance. Through email, you can send a Flash equipped greeting card in many cases for free! Oh, sure, you showed you cared by paying $3.75 for the Hallmark greeting, but if it truly is the thought that counts, you should be allowed to get away with being a cheapskate.

Sure, email is a great way to instantly send a message, but it is extremely impersonal. When you email someone, IF YOU TYPE IN ALL CAPS IT IS CONSIDERED YELLING. But those who are computer illiterate may offend someone if they don't understand the rules of the internet. It's nice to see the handwriting of people you may not have seen in a while. Just knowing that someone took the time to sit down and write to me makes me feel so loved. You can also include things in letters such as pictures, newspaper clippings, etc. I know that with the latest technology you are also able to send these things over the web, but the quality is not nearly as good as the real thing. Imagine how it would feel to never receive a traditional card on your birthday! This is what may happen if people stop using the postal system.

Today, it's easy to forget the value of a heartfelt, handwritten letter or card. But the written word holds a singular place in the American story. We can be inspired to revive this tradition, to return to the enduring power of the written word, and leave a legacy for future generations. In the past few years, the postal system has greatly suffered because of email. Everyone always complains about how the price of stamps keeps rising and rising, but that is due to lack of use. People are too lazy and quick to jump on the computer to send emails rather than go through the process of writing a letter and placing it in a mailbox. The Post Office and HBO are giving you the chance to do this for free at While email is a good way to keep in touch when you don't have a lot of time, try to use the traditional postal system every once in a while. Maybe you'll brighten up someone's day by giving them something other than a bill in their mailbox.