Saturday, August 17, 2013

Come Back! I Didn't Think It Through!

Do you remember writing letters? At various points in high school I had boyfriends who lived out of town.  You can't exactly call it a "long distance relationship" when you aren't old enough to drive, and I'm not even sure "boyfriend" is appropriate in all cases either.  At any rate, I spent a lot of time writing letters once upon a time, not only to boyfriends but to relatives on occasion as well. I was not a diligent corresponder, but I felt guilt over not writing my grandmother once a month. Eventually the bad feelings would overtake me and  would sit down to "catch-up" my correspondence."

Here's how it worked: I would hand write a long missive on carefully selected stationery, then put it in a coordinated envelope and seal it.  Sometimes I would go through several envelopes rewriting them so they didn't look sloppy. Once I was ready to mail it, I would spend a few days trying to find the stamps my mother hid somewhere in the bill paying drawer.  I would then contemplate how many stamps I was allowed to use before I was supposed to buy my own, and how many stamps a 4-page letter required. I generally went with one stamp per page. I was an excessive stamper.

After all the prepping was done, the letter would be put out for the mail carrier, who didn't come until around 3:00pm.  It was only then - several hours or days after I had finished writing my letter - that it would leave my hands forever.  I had many chances to un-do the letter.

Everyone talks about how email, texting, etc., has killed off the art of letter-writing, and this is true, but not something I generally mourn.  I no longer stock stationery in different designs so I always have the perfect one, and that means I save a lot of money on paper that I rarely used.  I only buy stamps at Christmas, and the left overs last me the rest of the year. Yes, I am missing out on cute stamp designs, but really that's not a big deal to me.

What I do have a love/hate relationship with delay.  It's certainly great to get an email or text instantly when the facts still crunch and the news hasn't gone all chewy.  I am an instant gratification girl.  


It is too easy to hit send, and that enter key does not forgive impetuousness. You can't take it back, no matter if you beg, cry, or swear. 

Once I accidentally sent a picture of myself (clothed) with the caption "I'm so boobilicious!" to everyone in my phonebook including my boss. Thankfully, her secretary was willing to go into the office at 11:00pm on a Tuesday and delete it for me, thus saving my job.

Once I accidentally carbon copied a relative on an email to my best friend in which I said disparaging things about her.

I have gotten embarrassing texts from ex's who have hit the wrong button while drunk and meant to invite someone else to their Christmas party.

But more than that, there are times when I decide to send a "just be honest, they deserve to know how I feel, in fact they should know how I feel, it's important to let them know exactly what I am thinking"  type of text or email, and that's the kind of message that needs to wait until 3:00pm for the mail carrier to collect.  Those messages have no business being sent without a "are you really sure?" pop-up.

It's not just because I may hurt someone's feelings.  It's also about sometimes it is better to keep your vulnerabilities to yourself. For example, on text it is easy to send someone a couple or maybe 5,000 texts while they are sleeping or at work. And you can't undo that, even if they haven't read them.

I do try and place sensitive letters in draft mode for an hour before sending, but  what I really need is a auto-delay feature for all the little off the cuff thoughts i have that really don't need to be shared with the world. 

Maybe paper letters weren't such a bad thing. After all, if it survived all the time in preparation, the wait in the mailbox, there was always the last minute option of chasing the mail carrier down the street. (And don't think I haven't done it.) Sadly, my computer runs to fast for me to catch up, and it doesn't look back no matter how loudly I yell.

1 comment:

  1. That was nice of that secretary! I had a friend at work who sent a private email to the whole company. She then sent an email nicely asking people not to read it which I think got to several people too late and for others it was just too tempting.

    I do remember the days of letters but I wouldn't want to go back and lose my spell check : )


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