‘Snail Mail My Email’ Misses the Point of Writing Letters

letter writingThere really are few things in life quite like getting a hand-written letter. The instances that I see one sitting in my mailbox, tucked between a Verizon bill and a Pottery Barn catalog, my heart skips a beat. For it's something so rare, I imagine a similar sensation would overtake me should I ever encounter a unicorn.

The person who writes these letters? My mother-in-law. The purpose? Just 'cause. A fine Midwestern woman with a penchant for sticker-festooned envelopes (and a complete inability to understand hatred of email), Mrs. W. has my eyes a blinkin' every few months, because the sight of another human's handwriting is something I'm not accustomed to.

No need to tell you, dear emailer, that the art of letter writing is dead. But I do need to tell you, in case you haven't yet heard, that artist Ivan Cash is willing to transcribe your emails, should you send them to him, and mail them to the person of your choice for a project called Snail Mail My Email.


Cool concept, indeed. But I think the purpose behind it -- which, if I'm correct, is to breathe life into the dying (dead) practice of personalization (i.e., surprise someone with a thoughtful, heartfelt, non-computer delivered treat) -- is kind of moot if someone else is doing the writing for you.

Part of the allure, for me at least, with actual letters is seeing people's handwriting and looking at the type of stationary or card they chose to put it on. Maybe they even went old school and spritzed it with their perfume? Receiving a letter with some guy's I've never met handwriting (but was originally typed by someone I know) actually seems less personal than just getting the email itself. And more lazy.

If you want to send me a letter, make like my mother-in-law and sit down and take the time to write one. And I'll do the same. If you don't want to, that's fine. I love an old-fashioned hello, but I've also accepted that email is part of our world. I get that you're busy. I'd rather hear from you through Gmail than not hear from you at all 'cause you don't have the time to physically write a letter.

But don't take the time to email me, then have someone else write it up. That's weird. And really impersonal.

Do you still write letters?


Image via sure2talk/Flickr

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