A GenXer’s recent social media piece, “Send me a postcard,” in reaction to being unable to find postcards on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, evoked memories of documenting my pre-computer world travels with postcards.
I shared my youthful adventures with family and friends through colorful pictures and brief, excited notes. A bundle of now yellowing cards shows the Greek island where I once took a sabbatical from marriage and motherhood, my travels through Egypt, and incredible trips across America.
Instead of today’s obsession with photographing every moment, postcards still enable us to revisit the moments as we experience them without compulsively recording everything through our handheld devices. How much of an experience is missed as we juggle the phone for a selfie or let its camera view the moment, instead of our eyes?
When I finished the article, I wanted to send the author an email, thanking her for her thoughts. But alas, like so many GenXers, she listed no email address, though she mentioned a website, a blog, and references to being on Facebook and Twitter.
I have social networking profiles too, and am even on YouTube; but I don’t participate on a daily basis. I think Skype is fabulous, especially for distant grandparents. But I still want to see my “friends” face to face or voice to voice.
Gen Xers no longer use email or even talk on their “smart” phones. I don’t feel a need to be in constant touch with a virtual world, like the 85 times a day they average. If she didn’t text him, my sister says she might never hear from her son. But those of us who love the language cringe at its 140-character destruction of grammar at the thumbs of youth.
So young folks, have compassion for those of us who still like to look at the sky, smile at passersby, and hear the songs of birds. Quiet soothes us like a balm. We’ve grudgingly accepted email as necessary and we know we have to text if we want to stay in touch with our grandchildren, yet we still are delighted with personal, handwritten letters and the occasional postcard.
When I used to commute and invariably became snarled in traffic, I kept in my purse a stack of blank, stamped postcards from my collection, and my address book (handwritten) and, while waiting, I’d send a few lines letting others know I was thinking about them. It was a more pleasant alternative to road rage and a quick, easy way to nurture relationships with those we care about. I admit though that sometimes the recipient is confused, thinking I actually was at the Grand Canyon. Or at the Sphinx.
Just as a GenXer joins us in regretting the demise of the postcard, must we older folks bemoan the end of email? Don’t leave us behind in your quest for having the world in your hand. Smell the roses! Become comfortable with silence and your own thoughts. Look people in the eye and smile. It will raise your serotonin, the “happy Hormone” levels, as well as those who receive your smile. Who knows, you might even discover, without the constant input, some insight you’d never thought of about yourself and others.
Think of it as respect for your technologically-challenged elders. In twenty years, your thumbs will be bigger but those devices you cling to as if necessary to life, will be replaced. One can only wonder, with what?
Be in Beauty,
Judith Trustone, filmmaker and author of The Cats Secret Guide to Living with Humans and Celling America’s Soul: torture & transformation in our prisons and why we should care, directs Sagewriters & the Global Kindness Revolution, which to date has distributed more than 70,000 Kindness Cards throughout the US and South America.
Box 215, Swarthmore, PA 19081