Opinion: People still have pen pals and keep in touch via snail mail

Posted by Samantha Rose Hunt

Opinion - Winston-Salem (NC) - Yesterday, I received one of the most beautiful packages I’ve ever seen. It was sent from a pen pal in Maine. Yes, I said it pen pal. In all of my social networking I have come across individuals much like myself who have a strong desire to send snail mail.


This has caused me to reach out and find individuals to correspond with via regular mail and on a regular basis. I currently have seven of the most amazing women spread out all across the globe with whom I write on a regular basis. These women are all different, all unique, and all great.






To many, it probably seems that in the age of the Internet individuals don’t need to communicate with snail mail. It’s probably even tough to believe that more than two billion Christmas cards are sent out each year in the United States alone. However, it is true, and studies have shown that 90% of individuals would still prefer to see an old fashioned greeting card instead of a virtual greeting card. I believe there are some real reasons individuals would want to keep in contact via mail. So, through my pen pals, and my own personal feelings I’ve come up with a list.



1) Snail mail is much more heartfelt and emotional- I save each and every letter and card I receive in a gigantic box in my closet. These letters will always be around, even when my friends are not, some of the letters I even go back to and re-read, remembering where I was and what I was doing when I received them. These letters convey emotion from the individual who sent them, as I read them, its as though I can hear a person’s voice, or see their facial expressions. E-mail just doesn’t seem to do that for me. Plus, often times the sender has gone to some extra trouble to convey a little part of themselves. Maybe it’s a drawing, or a glued on piece of string or gold glitter. Something simple, yet heartfelt which makes it personal and touches us in deep down ways.



2) Snail mail has more impact- This year at Christmas, I made the decision to send a photo card of my family- which includes me, my husband, and my dog. This gave all of my inquiring friends and family members the chance to see what our family looks like these days. It stands out in the mail box, whereas had I simply sent an e-mail with a photo it would be nothing more than another e-mail clogging up my friends already full to the brim boxes. E-mail can be easily deleted, not seen, or even sent to spam mail. My cards can be kept, looked at, placed on the fridge, or tucked away just as I save my greeting cards, where it has actually made an impact on the recipient. And over the years, it’s nice to see the changes as ties to close friends and family remain. New births, deaths, it’s all part of our personal history shared with those we love.



3) Email is not as authentic as snail mail- When choosing a greeting card, you tend to choose one that reflects the personality of the individual it is being sent to. You want to capture within a card their values, and their tastes. When someone receives that card they know that you have gone through the trouble of finding a card, and writing your own personal message. It lets the recipient know that you actually care. That sentiment has even appeared in their advertising slogans over the years, such as, “Hallmark. When you care enough to send the very best.”



4) It is much more personal- when I receive a letter in the mail, I can physically touch it, which is so different from simply getting a quick note via e-mail from someone. Even if the personal letter and the e-mail were to say the same things it would still feel different. Snail mail gives the reader a deeper connection, a tactile one, and it takes extra time to open the letter, read it, and process it. It‘s anticipation, want, longing. Whereas e-mail is instantaneous, snail mail is gratifying.



Individuals have a strong need for human connection. That is one of the main reasons that websites such as MySpace, Tumblr, and Facebook do so well. It is that same kind of need, that same desire to remain connected which causes individuals to continue sending letters and greeting cards the old fashioned way.



Snail mail isn’t going anywhere, at least not anytime soon.