We live in such a digital age. We can talk with our friends and family via texting, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, FaceTime, Skype, Oovoo, Viber, What's App, email and even LinkedIn if you are feeling desperate.
Communication has changed so much even since I was a little one. When I was in my pre-teens, we had AIM. Now, we have all of these platforms that force us to constantly be at the beck and call of whoever wants to contact us whenever they do. That has its positives and negatives, especially when your friends live far away. We can get so caught up in the instant communication that we forget to step back a bit.
That's why everyone should have a pen pal. When I was a kid, I had a pen pal named Alex. She lived in Huntington Beach, California. She would tell me when she went to Disneyland and I would tell her about what I did on the East Coast. We knew we would never meet each other, and I never even knew what she looked like. It was a connection made through our school, and I still remember her more than a decade later.
I'm not saying that anyone should find a perfect stranger on the internet and try to communicate with them. Pick a friend you already have whom you know is 100 percent a real person. And then get their snail mail address.
Write your letters. Don't type them -- do it with your physical pen and paper. That's step 1 and it will make all the difference. Tell them about your day. Tell them about your childhood. Ask them what the highlight of their week was or what they are most looking forward to. Maybe include a photo of you together or a drawing you made or some ticket from a baseball game you went to together. I like to write in colored ink sometimes to make it interesting, too.
This doesn't mean you can't also talk to them via all these newfangled social media outlets, but having a pen pal is so nice.
It gives you something to look forward to in the mail. Nowadays, the mailbox is filled with credit card bills, political ads and colleges soliciting the attention of my younger brother. I can tell you right now, I check the mail every day for an envelope with my name on it marked from my long distance writer. When that letter does come, I get so excited.
It gives you practice on your handwriting. How often do we hand write things anymore? Everything is on our computers nowadays, so we don't very often have to use our hand to write out thoughts unless we are in class taking notes. Even then, do we really write that much?
It gives us an opportunity to engage with the postal system. I am so fascinated with how fast letters can get places. When I was abroad, I would get letters from Pennsylvania to my house in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in about a week. That is the same amount of time it takes for letters to get from Pennsylvania to California. Who knew?
My point is, be a pen pal. It has so many perks and it does not really cost much at all. And if you're like Charlie Brown, that pen pal may help you through some of your biggest life problems, too!