Friday, May 10, 2013


Tonight, I'm mourning the loss of the art of correspondence. A friend of mine posted on FB a while back, "Why do people suck so bad at returning emails?" I never check mine, really. I have a counter on my phone that shows, in a bubble, how many new messages I have; but with the Munchkin, I have a rule that I don't turn on the phone or the computer while he's awake and alert. Once he starts to nurse to sleep, then, and only then, can I pay attention to my phone. (I can't talk or sing to him while he's nursing because 1) he used to choke when I did that, and 2) he gets too distracted and won't nurse. So it's his quiet time, and my "catch up on the internets" time.) 

The first thing I always check is FB. I am utterly, horribly, OCD-driven addicted to Facebook. I have to check *everything* in my NewsFeed, and respond to *every* message and comment - if there was a FacebookAnonymous, I would be its charter member. (It drives my hubby slightly batty.) But in my own defense, FB saved my sanity when I was on bedrest for 10 weeks - I couldn't move off the couch, but felt like I was still connected with all of my friends. I think I would have died a slow, painful, depressing death if I'd been immobilized for 70 days before the advent of the internet. If you had to go through it, my hat is off to you - it's completely isolating without some kind of social outlet. FB helps new moms not feel so alone, too - often you're rocking your tiny, needy, fresh-faced infant at some ungodly hour, and the ability to see who else is awake at a moment's notice can keep you from dissolving into a puddle of sleep-deprived tears. There are good points to FB.

But emails? Meh. More often than not, I'll open my account, because the bubble says I have 36 unread emails, and spend the next several minutes deleting nearly everything because all but two of them are spam. Or they'll be notices from some product or service or group on whose list I remain because once-in-a-blue-moon they send me an email I can actually use, like a really great coupon or something. My email inbox has become the digital equivalent of my actual mailbox, filled with so much worthless junk, it's no wonder the USPS is in trouble.

My dear friend just posted a photo of her letterpress stationery she just purchased for herself and her six-year-old son. It's beautifully simple - gold lettering in a fancy font for her, Calvin-and-Hobbes font for him - on creamy textured paper. I can feel it just by looking at it. I would love for her to write me a letter on it. I remember a couple of years ago, she posted a desire to handwrite letters to people, on real stationery, with a fountain pen; send her your address, and she would send the missive. I still have mine. Shy of cards for birthdays, Christmas, the baby's birth, anniversaries and thank yous, it's the only real, honest-to-god, letter-written-for-the-sake-of-being-a-letter I've received in I don't know how many years. That, to me, is just sad.

But will I be the one to write the first stroke? Probably not. Who has time? We live in an age where even receiving a voicemail is a pain in the ass - texting is way easier, preferably with all the vowels left off, so it can be read in one chomp; a glance at the screen and gone. When my Munchkin is older, how much further will communication be reduced?

I think I'm going to follow her example and get him impressive stationery at an early age, complete with fountain pen (but maybe with washable ink). I'm also going to teach him cursive, school curricula be damned. And maybe find an out-of-state friend with a similar-aged child who wants to be his pen pal - six is the age where I remember having my first one of those, too. Maybe he'll be as terrible a correspondent as I was. But I'm going to teach him to appreciate the art of elegant communication. In our ever-shrinking, fast-food, sound-bite world, being able to savor a long, slow, delicious letter, written by the hand of someone you care about, is a unique pleasure that's all but disappeared from our everyday lives.

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