I’m a Very Online person, and many of the people with whom I engage frequently are also Very Online people.
Most of the time “engaging” means exchange email or online message, responding to a post on Twitter or Mastodon or - more recently - scheduling an online call, just to chat and catch-up.
Letters through your door
But I remember, as a child, the joy that I got when something came through the letter box and I discovered that it was for me. The postman arriving - perhaps even twice a day! - was an event, even if things were only rarely for me.
Nowadays, most post I get is either unwanted marketing, or copies of bank statements, neither of which is much fun.
So when someone I feel I know well enough (see below) has said - usually online - that they have something to celebrate, or that they are having a challenging time, I have considered posting them something.
Nothing grand or expensive. Just a card, with a kind message in my unimpressive, not-really-practised enough, handwriting, and perhaps a small bar of chocolate, to land on their doormat.
My goal is to put a smile on their face, or give them a warm feeling, even if just for a little while. Clearly, if someone is having a challenging time, a card and some sugar isn’t going to resolve it, but it may - I think? Hope? - turn a pretty rubbish day into maybe a slightly better day.
Okay, I’m not a huge fan of queuing up at the post office, to use a computer system so unwieldy that there has to be at least one full time member of staff there to help people use their own machines, but I’m willing to suck that up.
The challenge is that I just don’t have people’s postal addresses. An email address, perhaps, or a social media handle, but not a postal address. I don’t - other than perhaps at Christmas time - write to people. Online communications are much easier, and cheaper.
But for this, I want post. A card, with my handwriting in it, picked especially for them. Not an Amazon parcel with a note they might or might not see, or a Deliveroo order. A card.
And even where I’ve had a postal address for someone before, I typically delete it once I have used it. People move, so I couldn’t be confident that the address I had was correct, and so while nothing I am doing here entails sensitive information or expensive items, I want it to get to the intended recipient - that’s the whole point of the exercise.
And while I got over the awkwardness of sending a message asking people if they fancied a video chat, I find asking someone (who I think is likely to be receptive to giving me their address; I’m obviously not badgering strangers!) for a postal address - typically, where someone lives - even less comfortable.
Perhaps especially since part of the joy (for me, at least; perhaps, for others, it is horrible?) comes from the surprise of receiving something pleasant unexpectedly, and saying why I am asking for their address diminishes that.
Yet it feels odd asking without giving some clue as to why.
A failed experiment?
I might experiment a bit more, and see how I get on - perhaps I can find a happy medium - but perhaps this is doomed to fail. Perhaps I’m just doing it badly.
Which means I eat the leftover chocolate, and that puts a smile on my face, even if just for a little while.