How Sending Snail Mail Has Helped Me Unplug and Connect With Loved Ones Offline During Quarantine
It was another Saturday night at home, in this new life of not going out or seeing friends and family. I poured myself a glass of wine, lit a candle, and set up stationery cards, stamps, and pens and set out to connect with each of my friends through some old-fashioned letter writing. It was like I was at a quiet, peaceful bar having a conversation with those I love most. It was also a solid break from the rabbit hole of my phone.
From a young age, we learned about the beautiful feeling of getting some really good mail thanks to the pop culture influences of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and Blue's Clues. I’ve long had a treasured relationship with letter writing and postcards. Some of my most vivid memories are connected to sending and receiving mail, from friends who sent me postcards from their summer travels in college and the pen pals I’ve had from childhood to the friend who lives on the opposite coast and still frequently exchanges letters with me today.
My dedication to this form of connection dwindled to holiday cards, until recently, when I was inspired by the online rush to support the USPS as it struggles to stay afloat amid lack of federal funding. It would be a shame to see the USPS suffer an economic collapse, so I went stamp shopping in order to do my small part in supporting the beloved institution. Without the USPS I couldn’t have accomplished publishing and selling a photobook, and many artists rely on the USPS as an affordable way to ship prints, books, and handmade goods. The USPS is a simple way to connect with friends, and a tactile object such as a handwritten note is sentimental in ways a video chat could never be.
I'm hopeful this activity will outlast our lockdowns and we will return to a cherished form of connecting, creating pieces to hold onto for years and generations to come — the same way we look to the letters our grandparents and great-grandparents left before us for more insight into their lives.
Teaching younger children how to write a letter, address an envelope, and figure out the value of stamp that mails each type could also be a valuable lesson. Maybe they'll even be inspired to take on the classic hobby of stamp collecting.
As our world virtually advances, bringing new technologies to connect us, there is still priceless therapeutic value in connecting to someone with a letter or drawing — for both the sender and recipient. And in this practice of communication we can again see the importance of our postal service.
Items you’ll need to start:
Folded Photo Cards
To buy: from $1, artifactuprising.com
USPS Forever Stamps
To buy: $11, usps.com
Gel-Ink Ballpoint Pens
To buy: from $1.50, muji.us