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A Lost Art

What ever happened to Pen-Pals?

I like the idea of Pen-Pals, and they seem to have gone the way of the DoDo. I guess it could be argued that technology has advanced and that the paradigm shift did not allow for pen and paper friends. It's sad really.

How many of you had a pen pal growing up? Do you remember the excitement of receiving a letter in the mail? Or in your classroom? Did you enjoy talking to someone and learning about their culture and life?

This is the sort of thing that's right up my alley. I love discovering new people. So I think to myself, maybe theirs a website devoted to pen-palling. . . and there is, except they are all a bit creepy and full of men (how convenient for them).

Then you get the stories where the person turns out to be a mass murderer. Which really makes one hesitate about putting that ink to parchment.

And if you really start thinking about it we don't live in the safest time in history. Who knows whats really on the other side of the computer. I suppose you could put an ad up for a pen pal that read like this:

Looking for a fun, friendly personality to share stories of life, laughter and interests. Must be within the ages of 25-35 and female and willing to communicate via email or pen. Living outside the United States a plus. Applicants should be aware--background checks are thorough.

I guess pen pals are for little kids who write to other little kids in the safety of their classrooms. Or maybe they just don't exist any more. Maybe some rare, obscure cousin is still out there but without the warm, fluffy feeling that the real thing had.


Claire Wessel said…
I had a penpal briefly in my freshman year of high school who lived in Croatia (which I couldn't find on the map because it was part of I think Yugoslavia or Czechoslovakia at the time). We only exchanged a few letters before that part of the world broke out in war and I never heard from her again. I think that experience of having a letter from somewhere I'd never heard of (and wondering what happened to her) gave me an interest in global affairs :) The pen-pal I got after that was a military brat turned male model. We wrote each other for years after high school and he ended up in Chicago after his model stint. I think we both moved too often to keep in touch! I loved having pen-pals.

I think blogs are today's equivalent of pen-pals.
Jamie said…
I still have a pen pal. Or two. A couple of my friends love snail mail as much as I do, we send each other notes several times a year. One of them refuses to use the computer and we have this thing with vintage cards , so we are always sending each other letters written on crusty old stationery we've scored at second hand stores (or at the ranch in a forgotten box, in my case). Good stuff. I just listened to a "This American Life" episode online about a little girl who became pen pals with General Noriega back in teh day. Hilarious and totally true.

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