How would you like it if all you received on your birthday were e-mail and IM celebration wishes? What about if on your anniversary, your significant other said, “Here’s some flowers, I e-mailed you the card”? The point is that even in today’s technologically abundant society, virtual greetings – whether they are through e-mail, IM or even online cards – leave something to be desired.
I’ll readily admit that I am an AIM junkie, and that I check my e-mail non-stop. In no way am I saying that it doesn’t make me happy to interact virtually with my family or friends. So what’s the difference between e-mail and snail mail?
The monetary aspect is not really an issue (I don’t think anyone really cares if you spent $2.99 on a Hallmark card and 33 cents on a stamp.) However, I would much rather get something tangible – a card, a letter – something I can put in a keepsake box or hang up in my dorm room.
I’m not saying you can’t print out and hang up your virtual messages, but I think it would look a little more than odd if you had e-mails adorning your walls.
Not only is snail mail more tangible, but it is also more personal. True, AIM and e-mail may allow you to talk to individuals whom you may never have the guts to speak to in person, but there is no way to guarantee that these conversations are genuine. It’s not that the feelings won’t be there, but that you may never know for sure.
Technology makes it virtually impossible to read the sender’s emotions, and this can be a bit sketchy (pun intended).
How many times in an AIM conversation do you say “lol” in response to something that isn’t even funny? Technology has made us automatons in that some emotionally related reactions come as automatic response to anything and everything.
If, however, one of those individuals whom you never had the guts to talk to other than on AIM writes you a letter, then you would get the impression that whatever he or she had to say was sincere. It would be in his or her own handwriting. I know that when I write letters they come complete with doodles, stickers and maybe even perfume – how are you able to personalize virtual communication to that level?
Some may think snail mail to be old fashioned, because there is no way around the fact that it takes a while to get a letter as opposed to the much quicker type-and-send method the Internet provides. AIM and e-mail are not without benefits for individuals with tight time constraints, or those who need to contact several people at a time. But I believe that a message someone took enough time to write and send is worth the wait.
All in all, AIM is great for first introductions and quick messages, but if you really want an individual to understand how you feel, there’s no way but the slow way. :)