Modern communication is comprised of hasty emails, Facebook posts, tweets, &c – brief (mostly) and passing almost as swiftly as thought (and often as poorly edited). Even voicemail is frowned upon these days (or so the Intertubes tell me – gods forbid one actually wants to speak when one can tweet is the reasoning, I suppose).
My belief structure is a kaleidoscopic, weirdly shifting morass, but one of the things I believe in is the power of the human hand setting implement to paper and consigning it to the postal service. I send thank you notes, sympathy notes, congratulatory missives, holiday greetings, and sundry random acts of writing every chance I get. It is my small line in the sand against the encroaching barbarism of modern life – a fist shaken in favour of form over function. Austen or Dickens might sniff at the paucity of my output, but they’re dead now, so it’s up to me (and my fellow scribblers) to do the best I can..
It probably also helps that notes scream in my interior ear until they are transcribed and despatched (a variant of the voices in my rice krispies telling me what to do, which is another essay altogether).
If our species survives and biographies are still being written I suspect we will be cursed for our disinclination to write on paper. There is a magic to actual writing –neurons fire differently and a different set of heartstrings is plucked when we write instead of type(science proves it, so it’s true!). There is also something wonderfully REAL about reading a note or letter in realtime and actual space which spits (politely, of course) in the face of the constant bombardment of image on screen, and when I see all the luscious stationery, cards and journals in shops these days, I have to believe that there are kindred spirits out there who share my predilection and also cherish the Cult of Paper.
A thank you – or, frankly, any communication in these latter days – conveyed in the material world carries a surprising weight. Aside from that, small courtesies improve the world in astonishing degrees. I think we would all be better for a few more random acts of epistolary kindness consigned to the mails.
And now there is an even greater – dare I say philanthropic? (sure, let’s!) – inducement to utilising the mails. The United States Postal Service is in trouble – beset, besieged and scorned by the oligarchs. One can strike a blow for the common man and the US Constitution by writing something, dammit, and handing it to a mail-carrier!