I went to a wedding today and met somebody who campaigns for more letter writing. This is interesting for a couple of reasons. One – he was young, and two – he does not work for Royal Mail.
Royal Mail employees would be forgiven for wanting people to send more letters, it’s obviously good for business. Unless you’re an actual postie of course in which case more mail = more weight. But surely even posties welcome real letters to deliver as opposed to Amazon parcels, junk mail and bills.
‘Old’ people presumably write to each other because it’s what they did before Facebook, email, even telephones. But in today’s world where the kids opt for instant messaging because email is too slow, I found myself wondering why any sub-pensioner would make the case for the humble letter.
During the course of the conversation a few reasons emerged. Firstly, a letter carries considerably more weight than a Facebook message or email. It’s easy to dash off a quick note electronically. What’s more the recipient knows this, and the message intrinsically lacks sincerity in comparison to one that has been hand-written, on paper, in ink, in your handwriting, with a hand licked (alright, stuck) stamp on the front. Not to mention that you would have had to swing by a post box at some stage to send it.
Secondly, there is something thrilling about receiving a letter. Grabbing the day’s post can be like looking in the fridge at the end of the week: full of promise but ultimately disappointing. If a real letter falls through the letter box (and a real letter is one where your address is written on the envelope, as opposed to being visible through a little plastic window) it’s a source of great excitement. When Citybump arrived on the scene, there were a few weeks where The Post was the most hotly anticipated event of the day (well, we weren’t getting out much.)
So there is a warmth and weight to a letter that email just can’t match. I’m not sure I would dare write to a friend though. It would be odd. They would probably dismiss their first thought that perhaps my internet and my phone had broken, to conclude that I must have fallen in love with them. This could have undesirable consequences.
I would like to drop this chap a note in the post to say that it was nice to meet him. I’m sure he would appreciate it, and bearing in mind the content of our conversation would know that I hadn’t fallen in love with him, which is reassuring. Sadly with the bride and groom on honeymoon as of tomorrow morning, I have no way of getting his address. It seems rather a long-winded way of doing things to send him a Facebook message to ask for his address just to say ‘nice to meet you, keep up the good work’, but that is of course the whole point.