Pen pals or Tweetpals?


Recently, I saw this website, Letters of Note in my Google Reader. Then there was a tweet from Shashi Tharoor on World Literacy Day. Along with it, this post by Sanjukta about Twitter. The era of letters, posts, stamps, inland covers, flashed back onto me.  Mixed thoughts streamed into my mind and got squeezed out to form the final words currently being penned down.

Loss of Pen pal system

Long back, there were inland letter posts from aunts and friends to my mom, following the traditional way of keeping in touch. I never got one, except for greeting cards and one or two anonymous love letters. I was grown up in the telephonic era. Not the mobile, but the old faithful land line. The times when the 5-digit numbers were used instead of the current 8-digit phone numbers.

I also have a vague memory of reading requests for pen pals in some magazines. At that time, I had wished for someone of that kind, a voice who listened to me, and replied to me when I needed. A shout to a virtual person about our life happenings, our views, our thoughts. But in those times, networking to strangers was weird and hard. Especially to find an unseen, but reliable person.

But now that, networking is so easy, connections are easily made over the internet. The loud thoughts in the form of blogs, and tweets or microblogs, enables us to send posts or short messages as letters to many of our pals, not the pen pals, but the online pals.

With the popular networking sites, public profiles and profile photos, there is less number of hidden identities, though there are spam and fraud. You easily exchange phone numbers, family photos, and even travel across territories to meet such friends. The anonymous tinge gets over very soon, when finally, virtual images gets converted to real living people.

Online Pals replaces Pen Pals?

There are also some kind of people who though would have interacted, would have never become friends. Just like a stranger who helped you by giving a lift, there would be many who would have  helped you on your various problems of life. In the form of single comments, and replies you would have been connected with someone, but then the connection does not sustain forever.

Then there are some, who are very closely connected through internet but have not yet met in real. Occasional or at times, daily conversations happens between them. From group mails to forums, the latest trend is that of twitter where new friends and followers are made easily. Real time tweets, instant replies and private messages differentiates this from the slow blogs. Conversations and discussions are made irrespective of religion, caste, status, language, or location.

And if such online pals start writing to each other, be it through online, it can be called the modern variation of the pen pal system. But can you imagine sending a postal mail to any of your online pals? Not the emails and SMS’s but a personal letter, in your own handwriting, penning down each and every thoughts of your mind? A personal note to show your love or concern? In these times, when real friendship are limited to online conversations and forwards, do these online relations have a real existence which would sustain for a good period of time?

Loss of letter writing

As per the advanced techie freaks who prefer not to waste their precious time, the pain and trouble taken for writing letters is of no worth, when they have the latest technology in hand. Does any one writes love letters or notes to their partners or room mates these days?

For that matter, they would have forgotten to write. It has happened in my case, for sure. My handwriting which I loved at a time, has gotten completely worse. I remember being crazy over pens and refills, but not anymore. Many a times, I have thought about writing similar small notes to old friends, but then, the technological inventions sweep me over finally.

Innovations are meant for better living, but the loss of some old methods and practices makes the golden memories more treasured.


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