Social Media No Replacement for Old-Fashioned Letter Writing

Whoa. Did I read that correctly? $119 billion lost in one day? A fifth of the company’s value gone in one day? Talk about anti-social media reports for Facebook.

After the dust settled over Facebook’s historic plunge on the American Stock Market, it was still not clear if more could happen. The animosity FB has stirred up in the past 18 months or so, is almost equal to the amount of money its stock lost. People were and are pissed off that FB allowed Cambridge Analytica free access to millions of users personal info. But really, didn’t we all recognize that this much information flying around miles of internet wires would compromised at some point?

Our information is as private as the face we look at in the mirror every morning. We should most worry about our valuables, like money, stocks, and properties or holdings being taken. Not that we vote this way or that, or that we like or don’t like one product over another. Our purchasing opinions are supposed to be valuable, but when opinions can change as quickly as a traffic light, I wonder if it is as valuable as we are led to believe. It’s tangible items we most fret over when it comes to worrying about losing. And it’s tangible communication that I was thinking about for this column.

I am not a new user of social media. I toyed with MySpace about a decade ago, but it was more to promote my music than to interact with other folks online. I was a generation behind the computer age, so it took awhile for me to get excited over it. I am more of a tactile pleasure lover and the internet seemed just a mental exercise. But gradually I succumbed to social media, and I admit I spend way too much time on FB or thinking about what someone else of FB was posting. I used to ridicule people who rode the internet. Now I’m worthy of that ridicule. But oh, how I do enjoy it.

However, I was reminded recently of something else I really enjoy. That is receiving real mail from a friend or relative. A piece of snail mail not attached to a bill or advertisement for the local car dealer. I have one in-law that will occasionally send a photo of the last family get-together with a few words written on the back of the picture. It’s such a joy to pick it out of the mailbox, open the envelope and find the little treasure is hidden inside. She also sent the funeral announcements of a recently passed family member with items in his memory that will be cherished. Real old-fashioned, I grant, and that’s the point.

The process of someone mailing anything today is preposterous for most of us who used the internet. The amount of effort and cost is just exorbitant to us computerized communicators. Email of course, and Messenger, and commenting on a FB post is a far more fluid process of communication these days. But believe me, as much as I use the internet to write and bloviate my opinion, it doesn’t compare to the impact of a simple written message in longhand, placed in a post office box.

It is retrievable without power or a charged-up battery. It is something that can catch your eye as you are passing from room to room, if it happened to be a greeting card someone sent you and you placed on the dresser. It is tangible. It is authentic communication between humans that cannot be erased with a power surge like an EMF, or the accidental push of a delete key.

Like most of you, I have collected and saved items from years on earth. Sometimes far too many, but to each his own, I say. And though I cherish these items, they for the most part sit in a storage container in my garage. Or if they are really special memorabilia, I might have them stashed in a closet inside the house. The point is I don’t actually pull them out and go reeling through the years with them. But I enjoy knowing they are there, in my possession and safe in case I ever want to pull them out and enjoy their importance to me once again. Goofy maybe, but these items are tangible and though not worth a cent, they are priceless to me.

Writing a note to someone means more to them than sending a quick email. It shows you put thought and time into sending a message. A Wall Street Journal story with the headline, “The Lost Art of the Handwritten Note” bemoans the decline of thank you notes in business, which can make a difference in getting a job or forging a relationship.

This throwback notion about snail mail also hold true for reading actual books that you hold in your hand and not just roll down a screen, but that’s a rant for another day.

This is just a reminder to send someone something priceless in the old-fashioned way. Stick a letter in the mail to someone you care about. It will make their day. And if they return the favor, it will have also made your day. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some ranting to do on FB as I’m sure something on there will tweak my beak and I must give my considered response.