Forget Me Not: Generation gaps — snail mail vs. email

— Do you remember what it was like receiving a letter in the mail before email became popular?

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Noelle Leavitt Riley

It’s so nice to open a mailbox, clogged with bills and advertisements, and see a letter among the mess. Just seeing a card that someone composed, addressed, stamped and carried to the mailbox can put a smile on anyone’s face.

So we must ask ourselves, “Should I take a moment and send a note to a friend or a loved one?”

What about our elderly parents and grandparents? How often do they receive “snail mail” — a term that society gave mail that physically travels from one place to the next.

In many cases, senior citizens have limited or no access to the Internet, making it difficult to stay in touch with their families. Some don’t even have email accounts.

Last year, the Pew Research Center, based in Washington, D.C., reported that 53 percent of American adults 65 and older now are using the Internet and 34 percent have Facebook accounts. The research poses the obvious question: What about the 47 percent who don’t use the World Wide Web and the 66 percent who aren’t on Facebook? How do they communicate with the world?

I make it a point to send my grandfather, who lives in Denver, a card once every two weeks. Although he has access to email, I know there’s something special and profound about receiving snail mail.

What about birthdays? Remember the days when we would receive tons of cards in the mail on our birthdays? That’s not the case anymore, especially since Facebook exploded. The Internet changed the way people communicate with one another on special occasions. It’s as if writing a note on Facebook or sending an email is enough.

And what about the 66 percent of elderly people who don’t have Facebook accounts? How do their grandchildren wish them a happy birthday these days? Do they even get cards anymore?

That’s why it is vitally important to send birthday and holiday cards.

We all live busy lives, and it’s often difficult to squeeze in a letter, but if we take a moment to compose a letter, it could make a world of difference in the lives of our elders.

My challenge for readers this week is to send a snail mail letter or card to a senior citizen that you hold dear to your heart. After all, it’s the elderly population that paved the way for us.

Noelle Leavitt Riley is the managing editor of the Craig Daily Press and the Saturday Morning Press. She and her husband run the Forget Me Not foundation, where they take donated flowers to elderly people to let them know they’re not forgotten by society. She also writes the Forget Me Not column that focuses on elderly issues. Contact her at 970-875-1790 or nriley@craigdailypress.com.

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