Pretty soon we’ll be replacing mobile phones with 1930′s rotary dial phones as well. Oh, wait, I’ve already done that. Lars hates it because these phones refuse to bother their important selves with small things like voice mail, call waiting, and speed dial. I don’t see any of these things as a problem. I seldom remember to check my messages, never use call waiting, and I think memorising numbers is a good solution for staving off Alzheimer’s. In short, old phones are character-building. When I use mine, it makes me feel like Rosalind Russell from His Girl Friday: smart, sexy and savvy.
Before we go too far down the road of retromania, I just have one more suggestion: let’s bring back handwritten correspondence.
Oh yeah, you heard me.
I’ve been toying with the idea for a few years now, because, unlike the majority of the population, the nagging immediacy of the Internet drives me crazy. The time it would take to write and send a letter cross-country or over the ocean appeals to my inherent laziness. It would take about two weeks to arrive and if the recipient was on the ball, I’d get my return letter about two weeks after that. If you’ve been doing the math, you’d see that it would take four weeks to complete to one cycle of correspondence. It used to be wonderfully relaxing, pushing that letter through the mailbox, knowing I could slack off for the next month. I’d done my job, now it was time for the recipient to do theirs.
If something was totally important (“I got married!”, “I know who shot JR!”, “my hamster got accidentally flushed down the toilet!”), I’d use the phone to relay the message. Everything else? It could wait to be fit into a very interesting, chatty letter.
Then came computers and their new-fangled ways, gosh durn it all. I’d write a long letter, press “send,” and within the hour, I’d have a reply. Well, damn, that’s just annoying. Protocol would tap on my shoulder and say I needed to reply immediately. I could no longer blame the mail system (kudos to Canada Post, for keeping our expectations low all these years) for my slowness in writing.
Of course, I got used to email, Facebook, texting, etc. Twitter still deeply confuses me, but I’ll learn it one day. Maybe. Communication moves at a zillion kph and that can work against me at times, like when I’ve sent the wrong letter to the wrong friend, or when I’ve misread a letter and quickly fired off a rebuttal, only to discover I owed someone a huge apology, or even the time when I …well, you get the picture. I’m not even going to address my mishaps with auto-correct. There are whole websites devoted to this disturbing yet sometimes hilarious phenomenon.
I decided a few years ago to buck the trend by writing only by hand. Not computer, not typewriter, no fricking auto-correct. Just me, on my own, unplugged in the truest sense of the word. I announced this to my friends and told them not to expect quick snazzy replies on Gmail anymore. They all nodded their heads in weary agreement, undoubtedly saying to themselves, “There she goes again, what other dumb ideas does she have that we’ll have to suffer through?” I didn’t care. I bought a stock of paper, envelopes, cool pens and lots of stamps, preparing myself for the writer’s cramp I was sure would follow. I felt so retro, so far behind the trend that I was actually in front of it, you know?
The inevitable happened. I wrote long missives to everyone in and out of sight. Did I get a single piece of paper through the mail in return? Nope. Everyone sat in front of their computer and wrote to me, saying almost the same thing: what a pleasure to receive something besides a bill in the mail today! Thanks for writing! So…how’s things?
I could’ve shot myself.
Luckily, this year, a lovely event full of tradition and nostalgia took place that made e-correspondence temporarily obsolete: a wedding. As Mother-of-the-Bride, I sent out 160 invitations and sure enough, I started getting lovely, crisp, beautiful, RSVPs coming through my door every morning.
Those ivory-coloured cards reminded me how much I enjoyed writing by hand, so I gave up my store of writing paraphernalia and went out on a mission to buy greeting cards.
As you can see, I’m more sensible now. I write smaller notes, no long epistles, unless they’re for our blog. I don’t care if no one replies now because the sending is so satisfying, I don’t mind about the receiving. I still get more bills than letters, but this middle-aged heart can keep hoping, right? I mean, one day someone (hint, hint) will write me a proper letter. By hand. Have I told you my home address yet? No? I’ll send it to you—expect it in about 2 weeks.