A Philosophy on Sending Postcards

by syaffolee

Recently, I’ve gotten into the hobby of sending postcards. Like a lot of other things these days, I got into it because of the Internet. (Most people in real life, it seems, are pretty boring or at least extremely reticent about telling me anything when I ask for suggestions about doing something fun.) After doing a couple of postcard swaps with fellow NaNoWriMo participants, I signed up for Postcrossing about two months ago.

Maybe if I had gotten into this when I was younger, I would have been a lot more lax about things. Technically there’s no wrong way to send a postcard, as long as you follow all the specifications from the post office, but philosophically, it’s another matter.

Other than getting sent people’s addresses and profiles via email, sending a postcard is decidedly old fashioned and slow. It’s a physical message rather than an electronic one. And personal since handwriting is involved rather than ones and zeroes in the Internet aether. But despite that, I feel that there are certain postcard sending habits that defeat the whole purpose of sending a postcard.

One of my biggest pet peeves is people requesting that I send the postcard in an envelope so that they can get their postcard in a pristine condition. I do not understand this idea at all. If you send a postcard, of course it’s going to be creased and smudged and a little frayed at the edges. All these imperfections show that the postcard is well-traveled and adds character to an otherwise unremarkable piece of card stock. If you want a pristine postcard, go to a store and buy the damn card yourself.

I don’t mind the type of card that I get sent, but I do mind if my address and/or the postcard’s message has been printed out rather than handwritten. Sure, these days there are quite a few people who have terrible handwriting because all they do is type, but I actually prefer illegible handwriting on a postcard instead of a computer printout. Why? Because the postcard is supposed to be old fashioned and personal. Printed messages remind me of junk mail and those impersonal holiday cards my bank sends me. If you’re going to type things out and print it instead of using a pen, then send me a damn email instead.

For me, the postcard is an antidote to modern communication which can be hectic and stressful. I prefer doing all this postcard stuff the analog way–I go to shops to buy the postcards and to the post office to get the stamps. I’m not like the hardcore postcard senders who scour EBay and other online vendors for those things. Because that would be too easy and impersonal.

Of course, I’m excited if someone deigns to send me a postcard. However I do this mostly because I want to send postcards to other people. On my own terms. I’m putting myself out there, after all, and it seems disingenuous for other people to dictate how I should frame a piece of personal correspondence. I’m sure inevitably I’ve annoyed at least one person with my postcards (like those people who prefer to have them in envelopes or postcards with specific themes or ones with “cool stamps”), but ultimately I want to make people happy, even if it’s just for a moment. And if they don’t appreciate my efforts, well, that’s their problem. Not mine.

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