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Do You Still Send Postcards?

Buzz Poole
09/13/2011 - 00:00

How many postcards did you receive this summer? I received a few. Only one of them arrived from overseas, but all of them were a delightful surprise in the otherwise mundane items that comprise the daily mail. In early August, Charles Simic, writing for the New York Review of Books, lamented that he’d only received one postcard this summer. With our ability, via internet connections, to bring friends and family with us when we travel, it is no great revelation that the mailing of postcards is not a part of the travel experience like it once was. Now, rather than sitting at cafes and bars, lazing in parks jotting down a quick note, licking a stamp and finding a post office, travelers find an internet café, or just find a wifi connection with their computer or phone, to let their loved ones know that latest.

Simic writes: “In my experience, people in the habit of sending cards could be divided into those who go for the conventional images of famous places and those who delight in sending images whose bad taste guarantees a shock or a laugh.” I agree with this, and think it is fair to say that the more conventional postcards, and the messages that accompany them, have been replaced by email and text messages. But for those of us that appreciate a bit of kitsch or just sending a surprise, it seems to me that plenty of postcards still travel around the world.

Projects like Snail Mail My Email and Doug Mack’s Campaign of Awesome People Bringing Back the Handwritten Letter seem to support me. The first was a much hyped art project where people submitted emails to be converted into handwritten missives, often embellished with various illustrative flourishes. According to the project website: “10,457 handwritten letters were collectively sent out to over 50 countries around the world, spanning across all seven continents. This response made it clear that, despite the fast-paced world we live in, the value found in personalized handwritten letters is not lost.” Doug Mack, a travel writer, has started a “campaign to bring back the handwritten letter/postcard/aerogram . . . Write to me! And I’ll write back.”

Charles Simic might not receive as many postcards as he once did, but I don’t think it is because people have stopped sending them. When traveling, do you still send postcards?

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