A friend’s email begins: “Thank you for your real mail note sometime ago.”
I am sorry that my friend feels her email message is somehow Less Than a snail mail note. If an infrequent email is the best way for her to send me news of her life, she can be sure I am happy whenever that email pops up in my inbox.
Of course, “real” mail has the distinct advantage of being tangible.
Real mail can be crushed in anger and lit with a match. It can be ripped up in frustration — used as lining on the bottom of the parakeet’s cage — soaked in tears or treasured for years.
My own emails can take on a cold tone I never intended. My friend of the email above, in contrast, writes in a way that even Comic Sans MS font cannot diffuse the warmth and personality.
Email is great for factual messages — date, time, place — but usually too dry for nuance. A group email to my bookclubs is so much more efficient than individual phone calls.
Text messaging my have the same built in limitations as email but it also has easy-to-use emoticons, the hieroglyphics of the modern age. A smiling cat face humanizes any message (sometimes inappropriately!). And texting is so immediate, so of-the-moment, that it can’t be beat for sending out a “We are running five minutes late” kind of message. Take THAT, snail mail!
It’s nice to live in an age with so many choices, but, I confess, I do like snail mail. A handmade card, a lovely paper, inked script in lavender or orange — snail mail can be a small treat for the senses.