I had a birthday this past weekend. I’ve had so many now that it should be old hat. Just another day. An excuse to get some friends together and roast the year that’s gone and toast the year to come. Somewhere between thinking ‘where has the time gone’ and ‘I’m really too young to feel so old’ I managed a few sane, and reflective moments that might actually be constructive enough to share.
Mid-way through last year, I unchecked the ‘show birthday’ box on Skype and Facebook. Not because I am the shy, retiring type, but because I think that for all the good it does, Social Media is robbing us of so much. We no longer have to make an effort to remember and so when we do ‘remember’ it doesn’t quite mean what it used to. It was one of the best things I’ve done in a while. Yes, I automatically pulled the plug on, say, 50 viral birthday greetings, but every day last week, when I stopped off to pick up my post, I had a card or a letter from someone, somewhere in the world, who had remembered. Not only that – they had taken the trouble to buy (or even make!) a card, sign it, address it, and post their remembrance to me.
Because so much of my communication these days is electronic, I’d quite forgotten the simple pleasure that comes with real post – not just bills or subscriptions or junk mail, but real, down home, honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned snail mail.
When I came back from the States in 2001, I started sending postcards to friends abroad who had never been to the places I was now getting the opportunity to see. Yes, I blog about my travels, and yes I post the photos, but there’s something more personal about getting a postcard that says ‘while I was here, something I saw reminded me of you and I just want to share it’. My teenage self had a wall covered in postcards I’d received from friends travelling abroad – but this was back in 20 BTI (before the Internet).
This isn’t an ad for Hallmark, or a broadcast on behalf of post offices the world over. It’s not an attempt to stimulate a dying economy by getting out there and buying a card and a stamp. It’s just a reminder that all too often, in this needlessly complicated world of ours, it’s the simple things that give the most pleasure.