Penpalling & Letters

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

E-mails... pros and cons

Despite it is possible to use e-mails nowadays to do penpalling I have chosen to continue using the postal mail. I might exchange some e-mails between letters or to tell something important or urgent, but these are the only uses I give to e-mails. While they might have some advantanges (of course, depending on personal opinions) there are some disadvantages involving e-mailing as well.

What do I like the less about e-mails?

They aren’t as personal as letters are. Don’t ask me why, but the feeling of getting a letter from a person and an e-mail from the same person is totally different even if it is the same penpal. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like the e-mail this person sent me, but I really prefer to open an envelope, touch the papers and read the beautiful handwriting instead of receiving a text written on the screen of a computer.

Typing on the screen of a computer is not my thing either. I don’t like it all. Don’t know if it is due to my current work happening to be done on a computer... The truth is that after working on this device for hours I don’t feel like going on typing letters on it, not even for a minute. Enough of computers and I better use my hand to write on paper!

It is impossible to touch an e-mail nor smelling them either... Do you feel the same excited when finding a letter in your letterbox and when receiving an e-mail? I don’t doubt that both people were thinking of me as writing takes time (it doesn’t matter if you use a pen or type), but receiving a handwritten letter feels more special.

When receiving an e-mail you might feel an urgency to reply back as soon as possible. It doesn’t mean that you don’t feel like replying to a letter immediately, but this continous exchange of e-mails might end up feeling like an obligation instead writing for fun. Also, e-mails (always shorter than letters by its own nature) start getting shorter and shorter as time goes by, and even rushed. That never happened to me when writing a letter.

Even if a penpal from other country writes an e-mail to you... Do you really feel like this e-mail comes from a place far away? I don’t. Letters really give me the feeling they come from overseas because they have travelled accross the miles. With letters a real feeling of distance exists. It doesn’t occur the same with e-mails.

A few years ago I had some e-mail penpals but with time the e-mail exchange stopped and most of them are gone now. Most penpals I got in touch with at the same time but who agreeded to write letters instead of e-mails still keep in touch nowadays. There is a difference then: in my experience and opinion penfriendships by letter last longer than those by e-mail. It doesn’t mean that some letter pals might stop writing in the end, but generally, letter pals seem to be more faithful than e-mail pals.

No possibilitly to enclose such stuff as postcards, used stamps, stationery, typical details from your country... in e-mails. I really like to enclose some nice stuff sometimes, especially postcards, this is why I would always choose to exchange letters than e-mails.

E-mails have some advantanges over letters (depending on everyone’s personal opinion, of course) and here there are some of them:

If a pal is interested in a very frequent communication, let’s say, daily, the best option is writing e-mails. Except they are lost in the cyberspace, a letter could never arrive so fast as an e-mail does.

To send postal mail you need to spend some money (you need paper, pens, envelopes, stamps...). When e-mailing you can send messages as long as you have access to a computer with an internet connection (which you have to pay, of course, but you also have to weigh up which option suits you the best).

Some people might find more practical to write e-mails instead of letters on pen and paper. It all depends on your convenience to use one way or another...

What do you like the most: letters or e-mails? Which ones you feel more comfortable with? What are your ideas about each of them? If you would like to mention some feel free to do it or in your own website, but please, leave a link so we all can read about them!

If you are looking for advice on penpalling check: "Tips on letter writing"

Friday, 23 April 2010

Letters! What's the best about them?

When I first started penpalling the only way I knew to do it was through letters written on pen and paper, that is, postal mail. Internet wasn't here yet, so we couldn't use e-mails back then. When technology arrived some people chose to exchange e-mails instead written papers or perhaps they combined both. Maybe some penfriendships have surived, others not... I have tried to be in touch with pals through e-mail but it simply doesn't work for me. I prefer to write on a real paper instead on the screen of a computer. Why? There are many reasons I guess!

How do you feel when you open your mailbox and find a letter from a friend far away? Doesn't it make your day? I do think that finding a letter in the letterbox is wonderful! Isn't it special to know that there is someone far away who cares to send mail your way? I have the same wonderful feelings when opening the envelope, checking the letter, looking at the handwriting, reading the letter, the smell it has...

A postal letter is written on real paper, might be handwritten on beautiful style and ink or perhaps typed. An envelope is used to enclose the letter and stamps are sticked to it. The stamps come specifically from the country the letter is sent! So when receiving a letter it gives the real feeling of distance, that it comes from a place far from the one I live in and the sense of a real person behind the handwritten pages exists... Besides, the letter can be carried and be read as many times as you wish anywhere you go. Letters give a feeling of continuance in time, they are everlasting; however, e-mails are temporary, a text in the short-term which will disappear in your electronic mailbox sooner or later...

Postal mail needs several days to arrive to the addressee's mailbox after it is sent. This way letters give more time than an e-mail to gather thoughts, ideas, opinions... which will be reflected and written in the next letter. When receiving an e-mail you feel like if you have to reply straightaway (a kind of obligation) and in the end it ends up as a rushed text in comparison to letters.

Correspondence by letters tend to last longer than correspondance by e-mails, in my experience. Postal penpalling generally takes, let's say, more effort than e-mailing so, in a way, it would make sense that the friendships would last longer when exchanging real letters. The bonds between penpals who really feel comfortable with each other are stronger when writing letters with pen and paper than e-mails.

Through postal mail it is possible to send gifts and small items which fit in an envelope. Maybe it is not something you will send with every letter, but it is easy to enclose postcards, stamps, stationery, penpalling related stuff... in an envelope. It is not possible to enclose such physical items in an e-mail, though.

What are your impressions about letters? What do you think it is the best about them in comparison to e-mails? Feel free to give your opinion here or in your own website (just leave a link to it) so we can read what you think as well!

If you are looking for advice on penpalling check: "Tips on letter writing"

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Mail trivia III

Did you know that...

the very first mailbox invented in history was created in 1653 by Renouard De Valayer?

He obtained the permission of King Louis XIV to establish a postal system in Paris. He set up a collection of boxes at street corners around the French capital, and announced by handbill that he was prepared to deliver any letters placed in them. Those letters had to be enclosed in the envelopes that he had placed on sale at certain stores. De Valayer's scheme failed, and it is generally thought that it was sabotaged by certain interests who feared its success. It was ruined by an enemy who put live mice into the letter boxes. Naturally, the public would not use such an insecure service and de Valayer had to give up.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Penpalling tools - What is your favourite one?

There is a section on the right area of the Blog called Penpalling Polls. I have been publishing a series of questions related to penpalling which might be of interest to all those people who are into writing letters. The polls are indefinitely open because a high number of votes is needed to observe a tendency. However, since the "Favourite Penpalling Tools Poll" reached more than 50 votes I am showing a graphic about it. It is clear that the great majority of participants love letters when penpalling. No-one likes e-mailing or social-networks to communicate in a solid way with his/her penpals. Since the option "other" got one vote... maybe someone out there could explain which one is his/her favourite way of staying in touch with pals...

Keep an eye in the Polls Section as new questions are coming out often!

If you are looking for advice on penpalling check: "Tips on letter writing"

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Mail & History I

After the invention of writing, communication among people came into existence. However, development of formal postal systems occurred much later. Ancient postal services are well documented in existing records of events. China, Egypt and Assyria had their own postal services in ancient times. While the Chinese and Egyptian services were confined to imperial/pharaonic court circles, in Assyria the service was open to the mercantile class.

The first documented use of an organized courier service for the diffusion of written documents occurred in Egypt, where Pharaohs used couriers for the diffusion of their decrees in the territory of the State (2400 B.C.). This practice certainly has roots in the much older practice of oral messaging and may have been built on a pre-existing infrastructure. The mail, mostly government dispatches, was carried from place to place by pedestrian postmen who traveled along the banks of the Nile, horse or horse-drawn wagon. Actual examples of letters from Ancient Egypt still exist nowadays. Letters in form of clay tablets bearing messages written in cuneiform (wedge-shaped) script have been found. It is known that Babylonia and Ancient Egypt exchanged missives related to their comercial exchanges.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Mail trivia II

Did you know that...

the first envelopes were made of cloth, animal skin, or vegetable parts? In fact, the Babylonians wrapped their message in thin sheets of clay that were then baked.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

What is mail? Where does the word "mail" come from?

The word mail comes from the Medieval English word “male” (spelled that way until the 17th century), which was the term used to describe a traveling bag or pack. The French have a similar word, “malle” for a trunk or large box, and “mála” is the Irish for a bag. In the 1600s the word mail began to appear as a reference for a bag that contained letters: "bag full of letters" (1654). Over the next hundred years the word mail began to be applied strictly to the letters themselves, and the sack as the mailbag. In the 19th century the British usually referred to mail as being letters that were being sent abroad (i.e. on a ship), and post as letters that were for localized delivery. In the United Kingdom the Royal Mail delivers the post, while in the United States of America the US Postal Service delivers the mail. The term e-mail (short for "electronic mail") first appeared in 1982. The term snail-mail is a retronym that originated in 1983 to distinguish it from the quicker e-mail.

Mail or Post is a method to transmit information on written documents or other tangible objects which are usually enclosed in envelopes or packages. Mail is sent and delivered to destinations all around the world through the national Postal Systems of the countries involved in the sending.

Electronic mail, most commonly abbreviated email or e-mail, is a method of exchanging digital messages. E-mail systems are based on a store-and-fordward model in which e-mail server computer systems accept, forward, deliver and store messages on behalf of users. The user only needs to connect to the e-mail infrastructure, typically an e-mail server, with a network-enabled device for the duration of message submission or retrieval.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Mail trivia I

Did you know that...

the art of communication by written documents carried by an intermediary from one person or place to another almost dates back nearly to the invention of writing, 4,000 years B.C.?