The “Happy Idea” Pen Pals

 

With the lengthy podcast for June out and being listened to (however little it’s content is properly digested) I have noticed a great number of lurkers wandering over to this site. The statistics lead me to believe many lovers of my work who can’t be arsed to admit it or, maybe, write or phone me, (sorry if I missed your call,) are awaiting further fun goodies. Fun goodies that they are incapable of understanding to begin with so it’s all rather nonsensical.

Meanwhile, what has Daryl been doing? Corresponding like the dickens!

I enjoyed picking up sixteen letters & postcards recently, then setting them on the table during a visit with new friends to announce the old chestnut, “No one writes letters anymore.” We all chuckled merrily over the joke, were awed by the abundance and gushed at the artistry on many of the envelopes.

And this just in from a dear pen friend, “I have to agree on Facebook, it’s a bunch of crap now. I get more forwards now then ever. Not much in the way of actual posts of what some folks have done. So I have pretty much signed off completely… It used to be a cool thing, games, actual talking between people, but now it is such an addicting thing for so many, and that some actually believe that all those people they are ‘friends’ with, are really their friends. But now it’s just a bunch of haters, forwarding stupid forwards, some that make no sense. And the ones I dislike are the ‘answer and repost if you really care.’ And now some bullies have really taken over social media as a whole, and it sucks. Not at all like what I was hoping for, instant message and fun, and it hasn’t been that way in a long time. You’re not missing anything on it, believe me. Just glad I never let it destroy me, like it has for so many.”

Amen!


 

Now onto the point of this log entry…

I received this card in the mail from a pen friend I’ve been in contact with for about a year. Like many pen pals, she is having problems getting people who will consistently write to her. She wonders,

“I always think it’s odd when people sign up for snail mail correspondence and then stop writing. I was really lucky that my first _____ pen pals were yourself and another gal. We all still correspond. The few people afterwards stopped after one letter! So odd! I don’t think anyone has expectations to get a letter every week or something but still… why even sign up to do it?”

To which I have responded:

“As for the deterioration of letter-writing among those who sign up to pen pal? I found more evidence of why during my Facebook Friday: There are two [I will label these as First and Second] strong proponents of pen palling that require a fee for membership, and have Facebook groups only open to paid members. A good idea in theory, yes?
“My use of Facebook induced a struggle in addiction that is extremely like nicotine. I’ve broken the cycle by carefully scheduling my use of it to once every two weeks. (I’m now moving to three weeks.) This took almost a year for me to accomplish.

 
“However, the First pen pal organization with a Facebook group has members who were once writing to me. One, a man who sent me my first quill pen, is active there. He has often promised to write when he notices me and? Never does. I wrote to him recently and he never wrote back. [Pardon this entry if you have just written, my dear!]

 
“The Second also uses Facebook with a few groups. They boast of this on their website and in their newsletters. (Their fees are higher and periodic – as opposed to the First which has a very low one-time fee.)

 
“This encouragement to Facebook greatly demotes the act of letter-writing into the ‘happy idea’ that its Facebook users are engaging effusively in this activity. Facebook posts will ask questions about letter-writing preferences, but… anyone can pretend to know and have preferences about something they once did or never do. That’s easy.

 
“In the end? Many people are signing up for pen pals because it’s a happy or romantic idea for them. The long-term effort doesn’t take hold in reality. In short this is known as living-in-denial. It’s also the reason one can find so much unused stationery in thrift shops.

 

“The ‘happy idea’ pen pals who rarely do it? They like to buy much in the way of supplies for their future hobby. That gives them the tactile proof they will see-it-through. (Similar to when people purchase exercise equipment to lose weight.) They may hold on to masses of stationery for years, but it eventually has to go. It makes very little sense to drop off used stationery to a thrift store, doesn’t it?”


 

Of course the “happy idea” style of people come in all sorts: famous novelist, delightful actor, slim-as-a-rail beauty, voracious reader of books, award-winning architect, and so on. It’s fun to daydream. Daydreams can dismiss a wealth of calendar days and fulfill hours of time. And social media often manages to push people out of reality and far into daydreams. Much like the The Mirror of Erised in the lore of Harry Potter.

The Mirror of Erised is a mirror, which, according to Albus Dumbledore, shows the “deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts.”

Dumbledore warns Harry, “Men have wasted away before it, not knowing if what they have seen is real, or even possible.”

Such is the case I see in social media where once I saw this with television.

In the meantime, between letters and shows, studies and healing (however sour I feel about the state of modern life) I am managing to get a little book reading done, and am currently on Chapter 6 of The Glass Cage by Nicholas Carr. It’s helping to explain so very much that is, forthwith, ruining our intelligence, skills, and wisdom.

The Glass Cage

One thing cheering me up as I go are a few pen pals enjoying the show on CD. They never cease thanking me for reaching out to them and sharing it and my company with them.

It is to them I can finally say, “You’re welcome.” ❤

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2 thoughts on “The “Happy Idea” Pen Pals

  1. Cindi says:

    My daughter (who is almost 15) has pen pals that she writes these marathon letters to – hand writes, on actual stationary, weighing in at around 4-5 ounces each. She said one girl asked her for her Face Book ID and phone number so they could text & keep in touch that way. My daughter told me “I said that you wouldn’t allow that, and I KNOW that it’s a lie and that you would probably be ok with me sharing that with my pen pal, but that would defeat the whole PURPOSE of having a PEN pal! And I’d never hear from her again, it would just be a bunch of ‘hi’ and forwards. I”m sorry I lied, but – ”
    I just looked at her and said “Honey, you’re not allowed to share your Face Book info or phone number with your pen pals. There, you’re not lying, and you’re right – you probably would loose touch. I’d rather pay the postage and have you have a pen pal friendship than save money on social media.”
    She hugged me and said “Thank you!!” She never hugs. Anyone. Ever.
    And by the way Daryl – she thinks you “sound too cool for words”! 🙂

    • morlock13 says:

      Well that made my morning! 🙂 I’m digging that. When it comes down to brass-tacks, social media and various other “time-savers” are really just manufactured to make more money and display more advertising. That’s how it’s free for us and gets paid for by the makers of it. (Hmm! Just like TV. Imagine that)

      I’m glad to hear your somewhat requested ban between pen pals and FB. But as she said, it would defeat the purpose and it would drift into little “hi”s and forwards. I’ve been watching that happen for years. I’ve lost more pen pals I once had to social media than I ever gained from social media.

      Seems like we have to find other avenues online to make the contact stick and remain. And somehow, we can manage this. Good to see. Thanks!

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