From the time that they could open mail, I have written notes and cards to our grand children.
The goal was to accustom them to the excitement and anticipation that accompanies a successful trip to the mail box.
A real letter will always prevail over an electronic communication with the same content.
Granted, the mail box delivers direct mail too, and some may object. But compare a couple letters, catalogs and cards a day versus an earful of robo calls, or endless repeat ads on TV, and nervous, persistent popups on your favorite website, and you are prepared to give the mail man, or mail lady, a pass.
In the social media arena, the email medium has a dark side, which I blundered into this week.
It started when scanning my email folders, I found that I had collected some spam. I opened the “junk” folder to find a stern notice summoning me to a court hearing next week.
The subject line was ominous: County Court Summons.
Like a total rube, I opened the email for details. It announced that I had been summoned by a named county court officer to appear March 25. I was advised that in my absence, the court would proceed with actions as described in the official court document attached.
“Gawrsh, holy moley,'” I said under my breath, “I better open this file, pronto!”
When I did, the computer screen flooded with a thousand lines of code. More characters than a kanji encyclopedia scrolled before my bedazzled eyes.
In a panic, I punched keys left and right, closing the file, and dove under the desk for the power cord, to rip the laptop off the grid.
Pointless of course.
Returning to the spam folder, I found another foreboding greeting, this one from E-Z-Pass toll collections warning me to pay off past due charges immediately.
Much wiser now, I did not open the Official Billing Notice attached.
I had been duped by the brusk, official look of the email, and should have recognized the ruse immediately.
Email builds its own insensitivities. We are more disposed to ignore it, or save it never to read later. It’s a casual, low calorie communication.
Conversely, without thinking, we may dive right in like I did, and open it, only to poke a bees’ nest.
Regular postal mail requires much more attention, both by the writer, and the receiver. The fact that postal mail is a Federal government enterprise, armed with regs that have brought many a crook to jail, gives me great comfort.
Esthetically, there is enormous value in every personal letter, because it’s a perfect indicator of care, concern and thoughtfulness.
So I continue my efforts on peppering the grandkids with real letter mail, printed on paper, much in the tradition of my own grand parents, hoping that one day, they will get the bug.
It’s slower, physical, and more thoughtful.
And who knows, maybe just one day, what goes around will come around.