Tuesday, September 20, 2011

SASE, Meet Dodo

Tristan completed an assignment for English class last week. As instructed by his teacher, he wrote a 500 word letter to himself and put it in a SASE. Apparently, the teacher plans to send these "self-addressed stamped envelopes" back to the students, for a reason as yet unspecified, at the end of the year.

He wrote the letter and then asked Susan where on the envelope to put the stamp. He then wondered where on the envelope he should write the address. When he was done, he brought it to Susan for a last check. He had not written his name on the envelope! She told him he had to write the name of the person to whom the letter was addressed.

The SASE has been turned-in to the teacher and will, I suppose, eventually make its way back to our house next spring.

It's 2011 and the winds of progress that howl, roar and rip at us, have made letter-writing a novelty! Tristan's generation very rarely writes letters. Skype, twitter, e-mail, facetime, texting; they've learned to communicate, instantly and effectively, in a million different ways! Time is no object, nor is distance. In elementary school, we learned how to address envelopes and write letters. Now in elementary school, students are not allowed to text in class!

Technology is leaving things like "snail mail" and cursive writing behind. The dodo bird will tell you the clock’s ticking.

Susan scolded me over the weekend for failing to read all the text messages that had been sent to my prehistoric flip phone! I explained that unless I see a big blue screen with the words "New Message" on it, I assume I have no new text messages. Even if there is no big blue screen, she suggested I make a point of scanning the bar at the top of the flip phone's screen to see whether there is an envelope icon. This envelope icon, she explained sweetly through gritted teeth, means I have messages.

I'm conflicted.

I don't want to be Luddite Lou. Still, part of me resents society's relentless obsession with gadgets and the craving to have the latest device to show-off to your friends. Without a doubt, there are practical applications and I applaud those who use technology's leading edge to entrepreneurial advantage. Do I need to see someone a continent away when I talk to them? Do I need a keyboard phone? Do I need to have a phone at all?

Maybe the real problem is that I'm just cheap and resent having to spend money on all this junk!

I know I could survive back in the dark age when I did my own parallel parking and found phone booths! There was peace and space and time to think. The world around me seems consumed by incessant chirps, bowed heads and tapping thumbs; and I'd much rather park my car than have it park me, thanks!

Is resistance futile? By failing to embrace new gadgets, am I dooming myself to a life of limits and lack of vision?

Will Tristan ever write me a letter? Do pigs fly?

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