Is the Internet Stamping Out Postcards?
I didn’t notice it at first, but now, as each summer flies by, it’s becoming abundantly clear – that age-old and wonderful tradition of sending postcards seems to be disappearing. It’s almost August and I’ve received just one postcard so far this year – from somebody enjoying an adventurous Zeppelin trip over Lake Constance, of all things.
On one side of the card, you can see a striking picture of a silver Zeppelin floating gracefully through blue skies; on the other, the eager handwriting of an avid Zeppelin enthusiast trying to convey his excitement. It hangs on my fridge, and becomes an instant conversation piece, whenever any guest visits my flat. Endless questions about the differences between blimps, airships and Zeppelins ensue, and then, when the Hindenburg disaster inevitably comes up, its time to grab a bottle of wine and settle in for the long haul. Such is the power and intrigue of that little piece of card.
The choice of postcard is one thing, but the personal connection at the other end is very special indeed. There is something satisfying and thought-provoking about another person taking the time during a holiday to sit down and contrive a hand-written message, aimed at you. I remember receiving postcards from strange places when I was young – Patagonia, Anchorage, Bangalore, you name it. One can only wonder about the postcard’s long and exciting journey from such odd, far-flung places until it finally flies through your letterbox.
Of course, most of us have experienced our carefully drafted handwritten letters getting replaced by a certain vacuous and monotonous platform called email. So if letters have been replaced by email, what have postcards been replaced by? The answer is of course, email once again, and primarily mobile email at that. Statistics about telecommunication technology show that projected smartphone usage in the United States is expected to soar to 192 million within the next four years, meaning written correspondence will inevitably suffer. I mentioned earlier that I have just one lonely postcard hanging from my fridge. I didn’t mention the amount of holiday emails I received from friends with smartphones. A typical subject box might contain the text ‘Sunset in Thailand’, followed by a picture of friends standing on a beach with a nice pink sky in the background. It’s great and much appreciated, but somehow lacks the excitement of a handwritten message.Continued on the next page