Wednesday, April 6, 2011
E is for E-Mail
It's E-day for the A-Z Challenge. Because I haven't planned these posts ahead of time, I sat and stared at the letter E for a long time this morning, wondering what the heck to write about. And because I had kind of a crappy day yesterday, I was utterly without inspiration.
I considered and rejected dozens of E-words until I finally settled on E-mail.
E-mail has completely changed the face of communication. I'm old enough (just barely!) to remember life before E-mail and the internet, back when you had to sit down and write a letter on a piece of paper and wait days as the postal service delivered it, and then more days to receive a response. We didn't know it then, but it was agonizing.
E-mail has thankfully made communicating nearly instant. On the one hand, for those of us who tend to be chronically impatient, E-mail is a godsend. On the other hand, E-mail has taken the personal out of mail.
I can remember the excitement of waiting for the mailman, and receiving personalized mail. My best friend and most of my family lived in another state, so it was a real treat to get letters. And writing letters is a lost art. When you take the time to put pen to paper, you're giving someone a little of yourself.
I still have bundles of handwritten letters between my great grandmother and great grandfather, I still have letters from my best friend (who died almost 20 years ago), and I still have letters from my grandparents (who are all passed now). There's just something about recognizing a loved-one's handwriting, knowing that when they took the time to sit down to write a letter, for that brief amount of time, they were thinking only of you. It's like having a little piece of that person with you all the time.
Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't ever give up E-mail. I can't remember how the world functioned before E-mail and internet. It was excruciatingly slow, that's for sure. But sometimes in our rush for progress we lose sight of the simple, personal touches that keep us connected on a human level, and I think that's a dangerous place to go.
So what do you think? Does E-mail (and progress) cause us to be less compassionate? More distant? Or am I just being melancholy today? Can you remember the days of handwritten letters?