Episode 145 – Snail Mail

Click to Listen to Nerd Hurdles 145

Remember letters? Remember writing them until your hands cramped and then you had to fold the paper with your cramped hands and stuff it into another piece of paper which you then had to write multiple address lines on?

Yeah, all that sucked. But luckily here are:

5 Things That Killed Mail

1. Email. This is the obvious culprit. Not only is email instantly delivered, you don’t have to lick any stamps or envelopes. I have noticed that lately (as in longer than I can remember) I don’t write email letters either. I treat email like a text message, just a couple lines to ask or answer a question. And it’s not like I’m getting sent any email letters either. Aside from missives from my mother, I think in the last year I’ve received exactly two email “letters”.

It seems that Email has also been a victim of…

2. Facebook (Twitter, G+, etc.). Most of the letters I’ve written in my life were to friends that I wanted to keep in touch with who’d moved to other cities or countries. Now if I want to know what someone’s up to, I creep on their Facebook. If I want all my friends back home to know about something I’ve done, I’ll post about it. A lot of the time I don’t even need to Facebook stalk someone because I’ve already been kept up to date by their Tweets or sometimes I catch people on Google IM and we have a chat.

I have absolutely zero need to write a letter to anyone.

In the episode I mention a couple pen pals I met at a summer arts program in the pre-Internet days. We still keep in touch. On Facebook. And those two email letters I received this year? That’s right, neither of those people have Facebook accounts. Out of everyone I know and remotely care about: two people.

3. Internet forums. A few times in my life I think I wrote letters purely as an outlet to spout my ideas about pop culture to like minded people. I met Peter Demmon (of Mediasaurs.com fame) in college writing classes and we kept up a correspondence for a few years that was essentially a slow motion version of an Internet forum. We sent a small forest’s worth of nerdery and ranting through the mail.

Now if I feel the need to share something with him, I send him 140 characters on Twitter. If I have something lengthier to say about Nolan’s horrible Dark Knight movies, I hit up the forums at Simply Syndicated.

4. Amazon. Of course, mail can be more than the mere written word. The “care package” was a big part of the romance of the postal system. Receiving treasures from across the country, decorating the package with stickers and doodles, finding the perfect collection of weirdo oddities to send…  it was a magical experience.

Now anyone with Internet access can find any conceivable oddity for themselves. And it’s just a lot easier to get it delivered to them direct from Amazon.

It’s also a lot cheaper than…

5. Canada Post. This could be a uniquely Canadian issue, but sending anything through the mail is prohibitively expensive and brutally slow. It’s hard to imagine anyone opting to send something through the mail unless they absolutely, positively have got to.

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