I went into a bookstore recently looking for a box of stationery, an item I assumed all bookstores carry because every bookstore I’ve ever visited has always had a stationery collection next to the greeting card section.
“We don’t carry stationery,” the clerk told me. “And see those?” She gestured toward a few racks of greeting cards. “Once those are gone, we aren’t going to sell any cards either.”
The bookstore was located near a college, so I’m taking the lack of stationery and the soon to be demise of greeting cards as a sign of the times. Apparently younger people don’t write letters or send a whole lot of birthday cards these days.
In a way, that makes sense. Their lives are virtually online so if they want to say happy birthday to someone, they can send a message instead of a card. If they want to say thank you for a gift, email is a lot more convenient than pulling out a box of stationary.
Personally, I like letters and birthday cards. I like Christmas cards too, although we seem to get fewer and fewer every year. I used to be pretty good at sending cards and letters, although like many things, that seems to have fallen by the wayside.
It is easier to email and with emails you never have to wonder where you put that book of stamps you bought the last time you went grocery shopping. But, like someone wise once said, easier isn’t necessarily better.
Sometimes I wonder what all of our electronic conveniences will mean to future generations who are trying to figure out how the people of the 2020s lived. Go into any thrift or antique store and you’re sure to find a few postcards that give the reader a taste of what the writer’s life was like way back when. One woman I know has postcards her great-grandfather sent her great-grandmother when they were courting. Reading them brings a glimpse of a relationship their great-granddaughter would otherwise never know.
Took the trolley home after saying goodbye to you. Saw the first star and made a wish we’d go to the lake and look at the stars together soon.
Enjoyed the movies tonight, although you’re prettier than Gloria Swanson.
Thank you for the delicious dinner. Oxtails are my favorite. You cook as good as you look!
How will future generations be able to read what young couples in love are writing to each other now? They won’t stumble upon Twitter accounts in antique stores. They won’t find their Facebook pages in thrift shops. And unless they inherit their grandparents’ cell phones and passwords, they won’t be reading any of their texts.
When I think of all the zillions of text messages circling the globe at any given moment, it seems like a darn shame if they’re all going to vanish simply because they aren’t written down anywhere.
I recall hearing all the photos on Facebook are somehow being stored in an improbable place like Montana. Don’t ask me how they’re being stored, that’s too high tech for my brain. If they are being stored, that gives me hope that they’ll be available to future generations to see. That takes care of pictures, but what about written communication?
Which takes me back to stationery and greeting cards. There’s no way an entire generation is going to suddenly drop their cellphones and pick up pen and paper, but wouldn’t it be nice if a few did? Wouldn’t it be nice if some currently in love couples started sending each other postcards telling each other how much they liked gaming together, drinking Starbucks and binge watching Netflix?
Because if they don’t, two or three generations down the line are going to look back and wonder how Grandma and Grandpa met and what they did for fun.
So maybe we should all consider adding our cellphone and Facebook passwords to our wills.
Then again, two or three generations down the line there might be a whole new way of communicating, maybe with telepathic thingies implanted somewhere on our bodies or glowing orbs attached to the top of our heads.
And good luck getting that kind of communication saved anywhere, even in Montana.
Nell Musolf is a freelance writer living in Mankato with her husband and two dogs. She can be reached at email@example.com.