McIntosh Trail Online
Keep mail sacredTuesday, March 06, 2012 By Jessica Roberson
Progress is a loaded word. Some would say we are progressing as a society due to the influx of new technologies and services offered to us by our fellow man. Some say that to move forward we must stop relying on the past. That seems easy enough, as the majority of what we rely on now is new or is being constantly updated. However, some things cannot be replaced or improved, like books or mail. Unfortunately, many people would disagree with me. For example, the current Kindle/eBooks trend and the recent proposal from the US Postal Service to limit their services, due to lack of adequate funding, show that we are abandoning once-important printed materials for more convenient technologies. The mail may soon become a thing of the past if Congress doesn’t step in by next year. According to the New York Times, while the US Postal service is predicted to distribute 167 billion pieces of mail in 2012, the number is 22 percent less than it was in 2007. If this continues and payments are not met, this year may be the beginning of the end for daily mail deliverers. Budget cuts have been proposed to solve this problem, such as shutting some offices, laying off workers, and not delivering mail on Saturdays. While this may not be a big deal in our privileged society, the more rural areas of our country and those without means to other forms of communication will suffer the consequences. Another field that may falter with the postal service is the newspaper business. Almost all of today’s printed papers also come in an online version for convenience to an internet-savvy generation (the McIntosh Trail website is www.my.hsj.org/trail). But the nostalgic feeling of a newspaper, with its thick, black ink and crinkling pages is worth the inconvenience. The mailbox is an iconic image of home. Even when all that arrives is junk mail and coupons, it’s comforting to know that a person, not a website, cares about you at least a little bit. And to those lucky people who still get postcards and letters through the mail, the postmaster is a close friend. Before there was Internet Explorer, Google, or Facebook, mail was the main source of information. Every day, about mid-afternoon, a white van with the familiar blue logo on the side would pull up next to your mailbox and deposit your mail with a wave. Now the only notice you get is a highlighted message in your inbox or a vibration from your phone. Each time we develop another technology to connect us to the rest of the world, we become all the more disconnected from the people and things that really matter. Yes, some mail is no longer wholly relevant or necessary. For a while, the main purpose of mail was to receive and send bills on time. Now, thanks to online banking, due dates are easily met. Shopping catalogs are also quickly becoming obsolete thanks to eBay and Amazon. Since a website exists for nearly every conceivable thing you may want information about, the trip to the mailbox doesn’t always seem so pertinent. It makes sense that, with the price of gasoline soaring and everything striving for modernization, the mail truck may go into hibernation or even retirement. But as a nostalgic person and one of the rare teenage technology skeptics, I say that some things are sacred. Let mail be one of those things.