Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Day 3 - Results - Email
I want to thank you those who have been posting comments on the blog...they help me to see a broader picture of the impact of technology...bringing to light what other people see as costs/benefits. Keep them coming! Karen, please tell your husband that I did cheat and go to Border's once...to see Ishmael Beah (See Day 2 - Results - Internet).
Email vs. Snail mail
Prior to this project, I would usually get up 1-2 hours early for the sole purpose of going though and responding to my email (three separate accounts). Once the option of emailing was removed, I still found myself waking up a little early...but during that time I would write one, maybe two handwritten letters. Here's what I found:
I was unable to keep in touch with as many people during the project compared to how many people I had kept in touch with on a weekly basis during pre-project times - this is a definite fact. However, I realize that a lot of what I considered to be "keeping in touch" was actually a line or two of an email. "Hey, how are you? Email when you get the time. lol, Christina"....that type of thing. Is that really "keeping in touch"? I mean, I've been on the receiving end of these one or two line emails, and, honestly, I don't feel like the relationship with the sender/receiver is being nurtured in anyway. In fact, often when I receive the one or two liners, which often include the loaded "how are you?" question, my initial response is sometimes stress...another item to add to the email "to do" list.
When I took the time to write letters during this project, it felt like I was creating a piece of art for the other person. I concentrated on my handwriting. I picked out and decorated the stationary. I spent time choosing my words, knowing the in some small way, this letter would become a piece of history. For example, as I collected the letters I had received throughout the month in a box, I realized that someday (perhaps long after I'm gone) my future children may find that box and spend an afternoon reading these works of art received from their mother's dearest friends. Would they get online and go through their mother's email account (given that the email provider still existed and the email login and password was passed down in the will or something)? Would they spend time going through all the various "Folders", "Trash", and "Sent" mail...after, of course, sorting through a ton of spam mail? Probably not. It makes me wonder about the history that is being lost in the absence of handwritten letters...letters on real paper which do not disappear with a quick hit of the "Delete" button.
Along this same line of thought - with the permanency of the handwritten letter, I found myself less quick to use harsh words and more generous for compassionate words. I did write one "dump" letter (venting to person about something that would have been more appropriately dealt with in a face-to-face conversation)..but just one. The feeling I got after the deed was done, knowing that a very good friend didn't quickly "delete" this dump letter or bury it in some "folder"...knowing that those harsh words were probably sitting right there on her desk or table...I didn't write that way again.
Permanent changes? I am only going to snail mail my friends. I will use email for work/research purposes. And I'm no longer going to use the excuse "I don't have time" in relation to writing letters or other activities (which you will read about in future posts). One of the biggest conclusions I've come to as a result of this project is that life is truly about choices. I spent 1-2 hours communicating in the morning pre-project; I will spend 1-2 hours communicating in the morning post-project...but HOW I choose to communicate in those two hours is completely up to me...and that, my friends, is SOOO liberating!
Tomorrow: Day 4 - Results - Television