As I’ve written about a few times, one of the biggest drawbacks of long term travel is the absence of the people you love and care about in your life who have a more permanent grasp on their surroundings. Back in the day that asking someone for their full name so you can add them to your repertoire of virtual acquaintances and fully complete your new ‘friendship’ would only be met with a look of bewilderment, this drawback to travel was not easily remedied.
Currently, the idea of sitting down with a pen, a piece of paper and actually writing?!?! a message to someone you wish to correspond with is, unfortunately, often met with almost matching looks of aforementioned bewilderment. Why would you waste time, effort and money writing a letter to someone when you can ten times as easily and effectively text them, tweet them, Facebook them, whatsapp them etc etc etc…? Even as a novelty, the shortest and undoubtedly easiest method of letter writing has peaked. The postcards glory days are long over, and is now left on the proverbial shelf, counting it’s final days in the overwhelming shadow of social media.
Is this a positive or a negative thing? In an increasingly digital world, the pros of technology can’t really be argued with. The ease of skype, for example, means that even when sitting thousands of miles away from home, I can chat to my friends as if they’re in the same room. I can even read through my Facebook news feed and constantly be in the loop with what’s going on in everybody else’s life…. eaaaazzzzy.
But as the older generation seem to relish in pointing out, this is a little bit sad, right? When I returned home after four months of travelling and four months of constantly updating my social media, everyone already kind of knew what I’d been up to… I didn’t have any big news to tell. Everything had been covered. That’s not to say (hopefully) that my friends didn’t enjoy hearing the story face to face in an inevitably more dramatic way, but that surprise element had been eliminated. And I love surprises in story form. Boo.
That’s where the poor, forgotten postcard comes into its own: a snippet of information to spare the whole story, a quick ”wish you were here”, I’ve done some cool shit, and that’s it. Job done. Aside from the fact you get to tell better stories, it shows people that you’re actually thinking about them. You’ve not just stumbled across a comment from a friend of a friend on the internet that you feel obliged to add to, you’ve taken time out of your day and show that you care.
Everybody loves getting mail that isn’t bills/trash/boring. A postcard may be more hassle than a two minute afterthought on the internet, but it’s worth it. Getting a postcard whilst away from home (or the rare occasion that I am home, for that matter), is for me, better than Christmas. An nonobligatory message just for you. Nawh. You can’t beat it.