Significant Stuff

March 15, 2010

I think that these posts are about the right length for Mom to read.

(Hi Mom!  I’m writing about you in the third person.  Hope you don’t mind)

A couple years ago, I got my mother a one-way email machine.  She’s not a computer person but loves to get mail.  I however, live in 2010 (or then 2008 to be more precise) and I am not in a paper-envelope-stamp writing habit.  It’s thrilling to get a real ‘live’ card or letter in the mail, but I am not the poster child for sending them.

I used to be.  Back in the 70’s and 80’s, I adored my collection of blank cards.  I’d find those sections of gift, book or even (remember these?) stationary shops and happily paw through the designs.  Funny, whimsical, poignant or just plain pretty, I loved them.  Granted, none of them included a dancing gopher that actually moved and sang, but they were delightful all the same.  I still have some.  They’re in a little leather box just waiting.

When I wanted to drop a line to a friend, that’s when they came out.  Sometimes the card that I found was so delicious that it would prompt the letter to get sent a bit faster than it might have otherwise.  Invariably, I’d get a card in return.  I could tell that she (usually a she) had had a similar experience sorting through her favorite card shops and the little treasure in my hand came from that trove.

Letter writing is not a lost art.  The medium has changed.  Now, I mostly email.  I don’t text because I just don’t.  When I get the new iPhone, I will probably text more, but until then I’m good without it.  I still write cards and letters, but there’s a blue moon shining clearly through the window.

There’s a new etiquette to writing for personal communication.  I’ve seen internet articles about it.  Irony never goes out of style.

So, my mom gets posts on her email machine.  I subscribe to my own blog so that it’s sent to me in email form, add a pithy comment, and then forward it to her.  A couple of pre-set times a day, any email that she’s received automatically prints out and is waiting for her to read.  If she wants to respond, then she writes me a letter.

I keep those letters.


Susan Scot Fry

Update…There are many words battling for predominance this morning.  I hope to make peace enough to hear them clearly.


One thought on “March 15, 2010

  1. While I recognize that times and media have changed, I must submit that something beautiful is being lost with the passing of the hand-written letter.

    I submit that this letter ( would never have been composed in the era of e-mail. Something else touching in its own way, perhaps. But not as lyrical and beautiful as this one.

    I fully recognize that it was also the product of a more educated time (with respect to those who had a formal education), and so there are other elements that have changed and may even be causal factors in the loss of the written card/letter. But I think that the nature of the new forms of communication encourage shorter and more encapsulated thoughts, and a more casual tone that, while charming in its own way, doesn’t achieve the same level of expression.

    And, the saddest part of all, it is more fragile. Those 1’s and 0’s are vastly more prone to loss, either in their electronic form, or printed out on a sheaf of identical printer paper in identical Ariel 10 to be shoved into a file somewhere with tax receipts or old Top 10 lists or…whatever. The missives composed now, if not lost in one of the numerous catastrophic data crashes that a given person seems to experience every few years, will probably still never be tied up with a blue ribbon and tucked into the lingerie drawer or jewelry box, or inserted between the pages of the family bible. The record of sentimental writing that I, myself, have is woefully scant for just these reasons. It makes me sad to realize that the record of *personal* communications that we pass on will be similarly contracted relative to that of our forebears, though the record of *public* and *collective* thought may be quite large.

    I’m not really tilting at that windmill — I know that the tide won’t be stemmed by either my wishing or by my tendency to cling tenaciously to my stationery and stamps and notecards! The battle’s over, and we gain plenty by way of the changes that have come to us. But, I really do believe that we have lost something as pens have made way for pixels. Alas, ’tis the nature of the world.

    So, that ramble having been rambled, I must go and see about dinner!



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