When I was in 3rd grade, my class was selected to participate in a pen pal program with a school in Zimbabwe. The unique thing about this program was that instead of sending letters through the mail, we used a new system was that was called “electronic mail.” We would cram our entire class into a tiny office that held the one computer in the school with an internet connection. We would dictate a letter, which our teacher would type on the computer. Once we were satisfied with it, the technology coordinator would push a button and “whoosh!” off our letter would go to Zimbabwe. I had no idea where Zimbabwe was or how the letter was taken from our computer to their school, but I remember thinking that it was a big deal that our class was selected for this program. We probably sent a total of 6 emails all year and we were always excited to hear back from our pen pal class every so often.
This morning, I went to an admissions directors breakfast at a nursery school. It lasted from 9:30am until 11:00am. When I walked out of the school and checked my phone, I had 27 unread emails. I didn’t feel quite the same excitement as I scrolled down my iPhone reading my mail, as I did back in 3rd grade.
While I can appreciate the efficiency and ease of email, there is something to be said about snail mail. Not only is it exciting to receive something in the mail, but a hand written note is so much more person and touching than a quickly typed, often full of typos, email.
Another lost art form, similar to snail mail, is the mixed tape. I remember sitting at home on Saturday mornings, listening to” Rick Dees and the Weekly Top 40″, with Kasey Kasem trying to time my recording perfectly. There was nothing worse than hitting the record button at the start of the song only to have the DJ continue talking over the song. You would have to rewind the tape and wait for the song to come on again, scanning the various FM stations. The amount of work that went into making a mixed tape is far superior to CDs or MP3 playlists. Now to give someone the gift of great music, you simply purchase an iTunes gift card. It just doesn’t have the same effect as creating a mixed tape with the plastic case cover with handwritten song titles. While I do not have a tape player I still think that a homemade mixed tape is the best gift you can receive.
Today I received snail mail at work; a card from my mom. It immediately brighten my day and gave me something to hang on the wall of my cubicle.
While my mom didn’t design the card, or write all of the words, I appreciate her taking time out of her day to browse the isles and pick out a card that says “just the right thing.” She sent me another one earlier in the school year that has been hanging on my wall since then, cheering me up every time I look at it.
I encourage you all, the next time you go to write an email to a friend or relative, think about sending a card or a letter. I guarantee that it will be one of the “little things” in their life.