Lack of "Old School" Letter Writing: A Sign of the times affects the Post Office (and us)

by Cheryl Courtney-Evans
posted Dec. 6, 2011

This post is not “transgender” or “lgbt”, but a topic that I think affects ALL of us, if not estatically, perhaps even economically. I’m talking about the art of “old school” letter writing. Yes, putting pen to paper and actually writing to people!

I was talking with my son the other day, and lamenting how “no one WRITES letters to anyone anymore”. He pointed out to me that it was “much easier/faster to just text or email folks”.

I had to admit he’s right, but also felt saddened by the fact that we’ve lost some of the ‘intimacy’ of a written letter…the perfumed stationary from (or to) someone that could be kept to remember them and the trouble they went through to compose and send it; the box of ‘keepsakes’ (i.e., pictures, newpaper clippings of a friend’s acheivements, etc.) that remind us of friends’, acquaintences’ and relatives’ who want to keep us in the loop regarding their lives. I myself have been guilty of bowing to the idea of “immediacy”, rather than sentiment, and I wonder if this reflects a greater tendency of humanity to become more superficial in its communication and interaction with one another. Witness how we’ve even developed an “online shorthand” (LOL instead of  ‘Laugh Out Loud’, SMH instead of ‘Shaking My Head’, etc.), rather than expressing our feelings. Is this indicative of our inclination to also withhold more of our inner selves as well, when communicating with one another?

Beyond this, the lack of “old school” letter writing has greatly affected one segment of our society, and by extension, its economy — the United States Postal Service.

According to DailyFinance , “Staggered by the economic downturn and the massive shift from first-class mail to email, the post office lost more than $8 billion dollars last year, and is facing at least that much again this year, despite having cut 110,000 jobs over the last four years and making other changes, including closing smaller, local offices.” (I just saw on the news they’re planning on closing 202 more “mail-handling operations” in the Atlanta area soon). 

As the post office does not receive taxpayer funding, it’s my understanding that they are funded by postage fees, so I suppose a good portion of the money that contiues to keep them afloat comes from all that junk mail everyone hates (with perhaps an upswing during the holiday season, with all the Christmas cards, packages, etc.), rather than individual items from the ‘private sector’, that would require stamps. 

So I ask you, wouldn’t be nice (as well as economy boosting) for us to make a conscious effort to get back to some “old time” letter writing? Think about it. This may, on the face of it, seem to be light conversation, but this is some serious business (or lack of it).


Posted on December 6, 2011, in In Other News, Opinions, Random Thought, Thoughts And Opinions. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. My mother, a postal worker, gets massive pay cuts what seems like every year for past 5 years I believe. Her poor soul drives over 100 miles each day to and from work to deliver people's mail. I hope this year for Christmas people perhaps give a gift to their postal worker to let them know their appreciated. People do agree that emails and texts are quicker, I do love receiving a letter handwritten in the mail, perhaps I'm old school. Its a rarity to get a card in the mail anymore. …Amariyah

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