When was the last time you wrote a letter? I don't mean an email or a Microsoft Word document; I mean sitting down with a pen and paper to write someone a letter. In my case it has been at least fifteen years, and probably more. It's just not necessary anymore with the internet now omnipresent in the developed world and increasingly pervasive in the developing. What is faster and more convenient is not always better (i.e., frozen fish sticks vs. fresh salmon) and it's becoming popular to appreciate the DIY aspect of antiquated technology, but writing letters lacks the homespun allure of making your own soap or knitting a sweater rather than buying either at Wal-Mart. Count me among those who laments but contributes to the death of letter writing. Between my indecipherable handwriting and the advantages of the electronic medium, I am not about to start communicating with a quill and inkpot to preserve the romance of a bygone era.
The decline of letter writing may be hurting us and our communication skills, but it's definitely killing the Post Office. The fact that we've replaced letters with emails is only the tip of the iceberg; cards have become eCards, bills have become electronic statements, checks have become PayPal and direct deposits, and…well, you get the picture. Combined with the fact that the US Postal Service has never been able to ship larger items as cheaply as competitors like UPS or FedEx, the Norman Rockwell-era mailman has been reduced to delivering, well, shit. Coupons for the elderly, pre-approved credit card offers for the gullible or desperate, and assorted other types of printed detritus that my rats will eventually poop on.
I get the feeling that in another decade or two we'll be telling our kids about how we used to get mail every day and bills used to be printed on paper, and they will listen to tales of the $0.22 stamp (I'm showing my age a little) in the same way that we listened to our grandparents talk of 10 cent gasoline and the mechanics of making a long-distance call in the 1930s. I suppose it's for the best, in the name of progress and all, but that doesn't mean it's without cost. Some people miss telegrams, after all.