Mail, by any other name

I like getting mail from an old friend, or a new friend, don't you? Now that Post Offices are threatened with extinction and the romantic picture of a fearless messenger riding across the prairie on his sturdy steed has fallen into the realm of fairy tale, we (humans, that is) like to get mail.

Perhaps not as textile and tangible as opening a letter written in the distinctive handwriting of someone you know, e-mails serve a similar purpose. It is vogue in certain circles, though, to decry the use of the internet as impersonal, cold, and a vehicle for turning the younger generation into isolated creatures who have lost the power of speech.

I have discovered myself to be a defender of the internet.  To anyone who knows me well, like my husband, this may be a bit of a surprise.  For years I was so anti-tech that Gene dubbed my laptop "Quill" (as in quill pen) to affectionately poke fun at my lack of technical skill or curiosity, for that matter.  But--- wonder of wonders---- word processing entered my world, so that now when I write something I can correct it without having to start all over on a fresh paper in the typewriter.  Waste baskets do not overflow like they used to with discarded drafts at inexpert stabs at creativity!

But lately I have discovered new reasons to root for the Internet and all things cyber. There are so many people I am in touch with via email, Facebook, web sites, blogs that quite probably would have fallen off my radar without this fabulous tool.  I have "met" people that I have not yet had the pleasure to shake hands with or sit down and share a meal and an old fashioned conversation.

Several months back a fellow student from St. John's found me in an internet search.  We hung out at the same lunch table for most of our tenure as undergrads.  It was great to hear from someone I haven't seen in years and develop an ongoing "conversation".  I bet we talk about more things now than we ever did all those years ago.

Sure, communication is different.  There is a certain romance to opening a card and having a handwritten note and maybe a photo or two.  But, when I get an email from Katie with a video of my grandson jumping in excitement over a silly song that she is singing to him, I am so grateful for that.  It's not the same as seeing him in person, but since they live a long distance from us, it is a good temporary fix.

I doubt that we will ever grow out of our need to know and be known by others, to be in community, however we define that.  Since our society moves so quickly and our loved ones are many miles away, I know my heart beats a little faster when I open my laptop and am greeted by a message from a friend.     I know it's not the Pony Express, but it sure is express.