I got a postcard last Friday in the mail. It has my name and address on it and traveled by plane before making its way into my mailbox. Although being just a piece of paper, it made my day.
In this day and age where messages and emails take an instant to be received, there is something special about physical mailed letters and postcards. Everyone loves receiving them! The fact that this postcard was specifically chosen by my friend, had her neat handwriting on it, contained an inside joke (that dates all the way back to middle school, #pompei, in case you see this Cass), made it the concrete proof that someone cared and thought of me.
Back in 6th grade, I had a pen pal. My school has this program/project that connected kids from different schools of different countries through letters, and for a short while, I wrote to this girl. I would share random things like my school bus always arriving late, or the fact that I hate swimming classes, and she would write back telling me about her dislike for the canteen food, or her love for her science classes. It was cute and exciting, and even though I honestly can’t remember her name, and have no idea until this day what she looks like (online stalking was not a thing yet), I hold this experience very dearly. Receiving her letters was comparable to getting small presents. You know they were meant for you, fully personalized, yet you are not sure of its content.
Postcards were a thing every time I went on a school trip. I remember that we would pick out a card, and sit down with classmates to write them and addressed them to our parents at home. Personally, this was my favorite part, because back then we couldn’t text our parents, therefore, postcards would be the only way to share all the things we did on the trip with them. We would have colored pencils, markers and stickers to personalize them. My mom still has all of mine, stored away in an envelope. For this particular reason, postcards connect me back to this package of emotions that I link with school trips: The excitement of being on a trip without your parents, the thrill of visiting a new place, the exhaustion that comes with days full of activities but also missing your parents and the familiarity of your home. Every time I get a postcard, it takes me back to this mix of feeling, and there is something comforting about it.
More recently, I enjoy sending surprise letters and postcards to friends, it spices up my long-distance friendships and adds a nostalgic touch to our communication. It is always fun to get a text from someone saying “I got your postcard!”, especially to those who you don’t get to talk to every day, it’s then a nice surprise for both of you, and a chance to catch up.
The thrill of receiving/sending mails just did not translate when we made the shift from physical mails to electronics mails. I noticed this when writing emails. While letters and postcards are calming and allow creativity (glitter pens and stickers are usually involved), emails do not do anything to me, they are if anything chores. Furthermore, physical mails are physical and visual artefacts that we curated, created and personalised to our recipient, something that one doesn’t really see through emails.
Don’t get me wrong, I love texting and face-timing, and am very thankful for emails and its practicality. I love that I can instantly talk to my parents and friends, but I also want to advocate for physical mails. They’re cool, and I know they are not forgotten and still practised, but they can definitely be even more popular.