Don’t get me wrong, I love the internets. Using twitter to organize protests? Game-changing. Watching videos of tiny animals doing strange things? Hilarious. Scrolling through a hundred happy birthday posts from a random smattering of people I’ve met throughout my life? Unnaturally gratifying.
But as many emails as I send each day (and there are a lot), I find them to be somewhat cold and without personality. They don’t capture the excitement of furious scribbles, the painstaking care behind every evenly penned line, the flourish of double underlines, the refreshing spontaneity of crossed-out words and carrots followed by tiny scrawled afterthoughts.
They often are too impatient for crowded meandering observations or funny stick drawings around the margins. You cannot tell how many times an email has been read by the state of its edges, if it has been carried around, cried over, taped up, folded and smoothed over, read and re-read. The best ones usually are. In a time where the truism “time is money” has never been more true, emails are both time- and cost- efficient.
But there is no physicality to them outside of the words they carry -- they have none of their own texture, size, or shape. They are rarely treasured (or worth treasuring), have never been saved by another generation to be passed on, stored in drawers and boxes, deemed worthy of their space and weight.
So once a week, I take out a card, set aside 30 minutes to write a note to someone I love (or really, really like), and pop it into the mail. Sometimes it’s in time to celebrate some life event –- birthday, new job, wedding engagement, passing an exam -– or maybe it’s just to let them know that I’m thinking of them and how important they are to me (in more than 140 characters). Because at the end of the day, if time is money, don’t you want the people you care about to feel like a million bucks?