Snail Email

In Communication on September 17, 2009 at 10:02 pm

cartoon-getting-a-letter-in-the-mailD. Hannah, Dubai

Gone are the days of eMail as we knew it. Where once the excitement of something new, now lies only the faded thrill of a letter. We may have hundreds of thousands rotting in our inbox every morning, waiting for our reply to be popped and sealed into the vacuum tube of the Internet internal messaging system (where it in turn waits to be fired back) but that one speck of gold – that one name we recognise immediately, being usually conspicuous by its absence, will send me into paroxysms of glee. Yes a veritable tin of glee is opened and poured liberally over open hand to be rubbed together, quiet contemplation echoed in a deep smile and shrill giggle, thoughts flashing ahead to home, wine (I’d recommend a good Kiwi red) and sitting down to peruse it at my leisure. Even a short missive if represented by the right name will banish thoughts of work – not that I usually get as far as the medium of the missive. No the name is enough to send me to sign out just in case I get a premature glimpse.

eMail is now to be savoured like the letters of sweethearts in war movies (minus the running of the scented envelope under nose of course – technology has and probably can go just so far). I mean it’s just so damn rare that we get ones that matter. When they first came out, the world was a bigger place, and phone calls being so expensive the new idea was jumped upon. Suddenly, it was cheap and fast to keep in touch. Then it became cheap but not fast enough. Text and instant messenging came into vogue, MSN to gmail chat to skype, available and on as soon as you booted your computer so everyone could see you were there and ready set waiting to be talked to. Then that too became too difficult – I mean actually responding to people? What were they thinking?

And so came the mass transit systems of communication. Now people don’t just see that you’re there, they see what you are thinking, doing and plin-plon-planning. A response without responding. Ingenious I must admit, but not for me. When – and more to the point why – did communication between friends become one to many? Wasn’t that sort of communication why books were invented? At least books contain stories – beginnings, middles and ends. Where’s the climax in Myspace, the face off in Face Book? When I talk to a friend, I want conversation – someone genuinely thinking about what I may want to hear – someone thinking of me and how I fit in their context.

As Sympathies is dedicated to the thought of picking up the quill and parchment (or flipping open the lid to keyboard as it were) I ask you this. When was the last time you sat down, and with malice aforethought tapped out a real eMail to an unsuspecting friend? Try it. The two I have received this month have made the long summer weeks go a little quicker (I live in the Middle East – this is a good thing).

So as the last Face Book holdout, I go back to the front and prepare to go over the top. eMail is the way forward. If you want to hear from me, you must be prepared to hear FROM me – not about me. And rest assured as I write I will be sitting and thinking to myself ‘remember that time…’ and may you catch a glimpse of that sentiment and find yourself in quiet contemplation echoed in a deep smile and a shrill giggle.

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