Take a trip back to traditional media for a human touch

Snail mail, phone calls, books forge strong connections

Kseniya Walcott Enlarge photo

Kseniya Walcott

Hustling and bustling through modern life, everything seems to happen so quickly. Really, I just have to type in a few keys and press the “send” button to communicate with someone in Virginia, in a matter of seconds.

Pre-Internet, snail mail was the way to go, and I speak from personal experience when I say it can take weeks to send a letter from the West to the East Coast.

But I’m not by any means dismissing snail mail or any other form of older communication. I strongly favor snail mail as a prime communication medium.

The most precious aspect of snail mail is the amount of time put into the practice. You actually have to sit down and think about what you’re writing.

I look fondly upon my earliest memories of snail mail, which consisted of the classic set of birthday invitations and thank you letters. I remember the ecstatic feeling when my parents handed me the envelope exclusively addressed to me. My finger would slip under the crevice of the envelope’s tightly shut seal, tearing across and revealing the message that awaited me.

Currently, I rummage through the daily pile of correspondences, as they (sometimes) take over my parents’ mailbox. It only reminds me that as I approach 18, I will soon need my own mailbox for the valuable and junk mail in my life.

With an email, human connections and relations are more difficult to forge. Email for me is usually a potpourri of snappy messages where a quick response is required in an easy, convenient fashion. I don’t hear a person’s voice the way I do in a phone call, or get the opportunity to really understand a person in his or her true essence.

Speaking on the phone with people, I hear certain intonations in their voice, giving away part of how they feel about what they’re saying. When I text, I don’t have much to go off, except for an assortment of characters on screen and imagined intonations.

I punch the buttons of my phone in frustration. The whole conversation is so detached. Texting works well for sending small reminders and notices, but when it’s full-on textersation, the practice becomes irritating.

Talking to someone in person, I am fortunate to get the whole picture: facial expressions, body language, voice intonations, etc. For me, this allows for a more vibrant perception of the individual – someone with whom I may form a possible connection.

As for the whole concept of reading books digitally, I’ll admit I’m on the fence about this one. Reading off any screen gives me throbbing headaches, but with devices such as the Kindle, I can dim the light or brighten it, to make for a more pleasant read. I don’t mind being able to carry 20-plus books on one device to save myself the back strain.

At the same time, though, there’s nothing like curling in a cushioned corner with an actual book. Being able to physically turn the pages, feel the crisp paper and experience that new book smell really ends the evening right.

Older forms of media remain prevalent, and even beat digital media because of their uncanny ability to still convey the essential element of the “human touch.” This is the primary reason why we continue to print newspapers, call our relatives and write letters. Online newspapers and texting are easiest, but personal gestures speak the loudest.

The simplest forms of media also allow for the most effective forms of expression. I rely on journalism for solitude and sanity in a technologically saturated society. Writing is, and always will be, the ultimate expression to the human soul.

A wise man once said, “Writing is easy; I just open a vein and bleed.”

Clearly, media is more than just communication. It’s a way for individuals to share a part of themselves through their stories.

Perhaps the most intriguing stories are those told to us as children. I’ve listened to my fair share of Aesop, Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. One can only guess – I favored fairy tales.

These collections, impressively, took much time to accumulate and compose. Time only fluttered away when I was read these stories. They have everything: a unique set of characters, an enchanted plot and lessons for young and old.

In fact, reading these same stories to my little sister brings back many memories for me, of my journey as a writer and storyteller.

Stories are built on observations, and from observations, we learn to interpret events with our mind’s eye. Even news stories follow a structure akin to fairy tales where every day we encounter intriguing people who add variety to our world.

Observations not only open our eyes to the events surrounding us, but also to the emotions of others. It’s up to us as individuals to listen and draw back the opaque curtains of technology. The constant buzz of modern tech is too much.

Going back and performing a kind, personal gesture, such as a letter, or a phone call, isn’t too difficult, is it?

Kseniya Walcott is an advertising editor at El Diablo, the Durango High School student newspaper. Her parents are Leo and Yana Walcott of Durango.