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".