This is a mailbox. I’ve included several pictures in this blog for all my readers who haven’t visited theirs in a while. They’re cute, right? But—I get it—they’re not the most efficient way to receive news and they definitely aren’t the most immediate way to communicate. I could send thirty-six text messages and seven emails in the time it would take me to walk to the post office down the street from my house, buy a stamp, and drop a letter in the mail.
So why bother?
Let me tell you a little story:
My dad (the cutest human being on the planet) decided to write forty-eight handwritten letters last year to people who positively influenced his life in some way. He wrote to everyone from a former college roommate he hadn’t spoken to in years, to his siblings and close friends, to the girl who dated his best friend growing up to thank her for the 68 letters she wrote him during the lonely years he lived at a boarding school after his mom died. “I had never told her that those letters saved me during the darkest period of my life,” he explained.
Thirty people wrote him back. Some, unfortunately, had passed away, making him realize how important is it to tell people how much they matter before it’s too late. Several invited him to share a meal with him and catch up. One man told him that he had no idea that he was important to anybody’s life, let alone my dad’s.
Would he have reached these people faster had he written them emails or sent them the notes in a long text message?
Would what he wrote have impacted people in the same way?
Because writing a letter takes time. People know this. And so, therefore, receiving one inherently matters more.
I firmly believe that just because technology is advancing, doesn’t always mean it’s moving us in the right direction. We tend to make this assumption because—most of the time—it makes sense to. Our technological advancements in the health field, for instance, better society almost one hundred percent of the time. But when it comes to advancements in social technology, it’s up for more of a debate.
I encourage everyone—especially my generation—to reflect on their use of technology and to ask, not: does this device help me live more efficiently? But: does it help me live better? And if the answer is no, consider reevaluating your use of it. Or using in it in conjunction with something else that does better your life.
Though counterintuitive, sometimes going backwards to a former practice or tradition, such as handwritten letters, might actually help you move forward in your relationships with others and improve your overall health and happiness.
Cathy Busch says
Thank you Riley your points are very valid. I went to grammar school with you dad, enjoyed visiting with him at our reunion in San Francisco in 2016. Texting is the way your generation communicates and it too leaves lot to be desired. There used to be a commercial on television for one of the phone companies and the catch phrase was reach out and touch someone, which is what you do when you hear their voice. My sister and I still call each other once a week to catch up as we live in different states.