We are inner connected in many, many ways and sometimes too over-connected. I have a Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Hotmail, Gmail, Amazon, YouTube, Yahoo, Wordpress and Blogger accounts. That is a lot of online presence, but does any of this give me a sense of closeness with the people I interact with? In some ways yes, but it most ways it doesn't. It takes very little effort to jump on the laptop and shoot a quick message to someone. I can exert even less energy by simply clicking "like" on someone's photo. These activities give the impression that I am involved in their lives, but I might not even know them hardly at all. And I know it takes very little effort for my friends to do the same back to me. Mind you, I do appreciate my friends letting me know that they read my blog posts, Facebook updates and tweets with a comment and I would feel sad if I didn't receive any feedback at all.
But all of this internet connectivity does not take the place of genuine, heart-felt, honest communication. Whether that is face-to-face over coffee or chatting on the phone or working side-by-side at a soup kitchen. Something happens when you can actually look into someone's eyes and hear their voice and read between the pauses and posture to understand the depths of that person. Or at least a little peek into their soul. Isn't that the ultimate goal? To have someone know your thoughts before you even speak them?
That being said, I think we have lost the art of communication through the written letter.
There is something about opening a fresh pack of stationary, pressing the pen to the page, licking the envelope, applying the stamp and putting the envelope in the mail to a far off destination that puts a smile on my face. Maybe it is the reminder of my childhood days of pen pals and friends I had left behind as we moved states with my Dad's career. Here are pictures I took back in 1996 of my 5 pen pals from Michigan to Missori to Texas to Pennsylvania to Kenya, Africa.
|I'm the blond in this picture.|
The whole inspiration for this post was because there is one man who has received letters from over 3,000 people from around the world. Why, you ask? Because he has thrown over 4,000 messages in a bottle into the ocean in hopes of getting a reply. Now there is a man who knows the value and connectivity that can be found through the written words of a stranger. (Watch a video about him by clicking here.)
(UPDATE: A friend of mine has just told me about Post Crossing. I am totally excited to try this out! It is a free site that allows you to send and receive post cards from around the world. I guess I will have the opportunity to start writing again! And I'll give you an update as I receive and send postcards around the globe.)