In Defense of Snail Mail: Why I'll Always Send Handwritten Cards
It might sound old-school coming from the lips of a 32-year-old, but I think it's time for snail mail to make a comeback. Yes, I know email and texting are oh-so-convenient, but hear me out: We send and receive 126 emails per day—just related to work—according to a report by the market research firm The Radicati Group, Inc. And the constant flow of texts ("Your prescription is ready to pick up." "Click here to confirm your reservation." "Hey, can you meet up for coffee?!") can get tiring.
Conversely, a considerate piece of snail mail is never frowned upon. Discovering a hand-addressed card or letter in the middle of a stack of bills, ads, and flyers is like finding a pint of ice cream in the back of the freezer. Jackpot!
While there's no wrong time to send snail mail, these are my top five reasons why now is a great time to stock up on stamps.
1. Mental health wins are huge.
You know that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you open a note from a loved one? Well, the good vibes don't stop there. Numerous studies have shown that the simple act can help combat loneliness and depression and lower the risk of suicide. There are even organizations like Letters Against Depression that send hand-written letters to people around the world battling depression.
2. It’s easier than ever to keep track of addresses and important dates.
Technology has made it simpler to eschew snail mail for paperless communication, but it's also made it a cinch to hit the easy button on sending mail through the post. I harness the powers of free tools to keep track of addresses and birthdays. Create a free account on Postable and you can share a custom link (postable.com/yourname) with friends, family, and coworkers to input their addresses, birthdays, and anniversaries. If he or she skips the birthday field, I cross-reference Facebook. I've made it a Sunday morning habit to scroll over to Events > Birthdays to see who's celebrating the next week. That way, I have time to select and send a special birthday card.
Related: Creative Ways to Spice Up Snail Mail
3. It’s an affordable way to say thinking of you.
For only 58 cents (the current cost of a stamp) you can send a thoughtful DIY card containing your words as the gift, and those are priceless. If you need inspiration for what to write, consider these tips:
- Make it personal. Weave in a memory of an experience you've shared or one you're looking forward to.
- Quote wisely. Share a lyric from one of their favorite artists or a quote from an author or celebrity they love.
- Speak from the heart. Above all, share your honest feelings. (Does she inspire you to be more courageous? Do you appreciate how he is such a fantastic listener? Do you admire her ambition?) Expressing emotions in words, even written, acts as a form of therapy, according to research published in the journal Psychological Science.
4. A hard-copy note is timeless.
Unlike emails or texts that tend to get lost in the shuffle and quickly deleted, a card can be pinned to a bulletin board or used as a bookmark to be enjoyed and read again and again. The winter holidays and birthdays are traditional times to send cards. However, I'm fond of sending unexpected just-because notes when the recipient pops into my mind.
5. It’s the second best thing to an IRL visit.
While a flight to visit your mom across the country might cost $500, a letter runs you less than a dollar and still shows how much you care. The emotional connection is strong, whether you're the one imagining your loved one opening the note or you're the one reading the note.