The Benefits of Ink and Paper in our Current World

A hand-written letter can be a beautiful thing. The choice of paper, the shape and placement of the words, the color of the ink, are all qualities that cannot be reproduced by a text or email. Just as we wouldn’t want to replace the sound of a person’s voice with a generated computer message, it would be sad to lose the ability to send someone a letter or card through the mail.

ink and paper provide a tangible record
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

I have vivid memories of my father’s strong and elegant writing on white paper and the way he’d carefully fold each letter before sliding it into an envelope. In my desk is a group of cards and stationary to use for thank you notes and letters. I’ve got a roll of forever stamps and a couple of nice pens, hopeful that those stamps will still be useful five years from now.

Now it is week 27 since the Pandemic arrived on the east coast of the United States and I am concerned about the future of our postal system

It took two weeks for a piece of business correspondence, sent first class from Pennsylvania to Maryland to arrive in my mailbox. Two weeks. First class mail used to take three days, four or five at the most to travel from one neighboring state to another. Now in September 2020 be happy if your mail is delivered. Don’t question how long it takes. The United States Postal Service is doing their best. We hope.

These are troubling times. It doesn’t matter whether you lean to the left or the right, reliable mail delivery is important. Medicine, benefit checks, and legal notices are still being sent through the U.S. Postal Service.  Long ago the United States Congress put all kinds of protections into place to protect the integrity of the nation’s delivery service.

 A major concern has always been Mail Fraud. The first federal law statute protecting consumers from anyone using the mail service to perpetrate a fraud was enacted in 1872 and over the years the laws have been expanded to include Fedex, UPS and any other mail delivery service. Any fraud that includes “theft of honest services” can be prosecuted.  So why is anyone questioning the soundness and safety of our mail system? It sounds very un-American to me.

Even before our worries that the postal system has been intentionally slowed—handicapped by poor leadership and management—there’s been a cultural divide about paper communication. For the past twenty years we have shifted to using computers and smart phones for emails and messaging. We have been told to stop using paper. Stop printing. Save a tree by using less paper. Store documents on the cloud, thus preserving valuable space and resources.  Corporations have saved millions of dollars by training employees and clients to communicate digitally and to stop using paper. This has eliminated the need to mail out hard copies of bills, documents and reports.

The crusade against paper and ink spread to the world of publishing. For several years I heard dire reports that it was only a matter of time before people stopped purchasing traditional books. It was predicted consumers would read only on digital devices or they’d listen to books on tape. Books would soon become extinct.

 It’s entertaining to listen to a book read to me while I fold laundry or drive. Convenient to read stories on an electronic tablet. But nothing can replace the heft and weight of paper and the thrill of physically turning pages. Printed books still have their fans. Six hundred and seventy-five million new books were sold in 2019, according to Statista.com.

 Social distancing prevents us from doing much hand holding, hugging, and touching in our current world. A phone call, a video chat, messaging and email help keep us connected but a letter is something physical to hold and touch. If you haven’t sent a card or a letter in a while to someone you miss, maybe it’s time to give it a try.

It’s not so easy to alter something written in black and white on piece of paper; a piece of paper that contains your vote, a record of your political choice.  Mail-in ballots are an important component of the voting process this year. In the state of Maryland where I reside, voters are given a choice: request a mail-in ballot, vote early, vote on election day. I feel comfortable using a mail-in ballot.

Electronic communication, as we know, can easily be accessed and hacked. Who is doing the meddling? Foreign powers, the largest ones in particular, have an interest in creating divisiveness within our nation. So far they are doing a great job. One part of the United States gets their information from Fox News. Another part of the country gets their information from the New York Times, The Washington Post and the so-called liberal media.

A third of our nation doesn’t bother to listen to the news at all. They’d rather just think about something else. Two hundred thousand people have died from the Novel Coronavirus—so far. We don’t know what the final death toll will be. Many people have no insurance and no money to pay for health care.

On the West Coast we have extensive forest fires and in other parts of our nation people have suffered from devastating floods as a result of the tornadoes and hurricanes that keep arriving. In my reality, global warming affecting our weather patterns and the world’s food supply is real. I want a President who believes in science and who cares about people not his ego.

We have an important election coming up in the United States. Vote. Choose your method. The United States Postal Service is an American institution. Support your freedom to choose how you vote. If you are voting by mail, mail your ballot in as early as you are able, just in case the mail delivery takes two weeks. Or better yet, drop it off at a polling station.

Published by Nadja Maril

Nadja Maril is a communications professional who has over 10 years experience as a magazine editor. A writer and journalist, Maril is the author of several books including: "American Lighting 1840-1940", "Antique Lamp Buyer's Guide", "Me, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat", and "Runaway, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat". Her short stories and essays have been published in several small online journals including Lunch Ticket, Change Seven, Scarlet Leaf Review and Storynews. She has an MFA in creative writing from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. Former Editor-in-Chief of What's Up ? Publishing, former Editor of Chesapeake Taste Magazine a regional lifestyle magazine based in Annapolis, and former Lighting Editor of Victorian Homes Magazine, Maril has written hundreds of newspaper and magazines articles on a variety of subjects..

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