Receiving an email is probably on the lower end of the correspondence totem pole today. (Actually, there is zero correlation between placement of a particular image within a totem pole and its significance; my analogy only works because of the perpetuation of this myth within the American lexicon). Anyway, email has rightfully earned its place towards the bottom as a result of the shear quantity of spam messages that fill up the average inbox. This is not to say that receiving an email cannot be the most exciting form of communication, because it all depends on who has sent it and why, i.e., soldiers overseas writing home, admission offices of college universities sending out acceptance letters.
Next level up, would be the preferred form of communication for this generation and most shallow for all generations living, text messaging. Americans in my age group (18-29) send an average of 88 text messages per day. Americans as a whole sent 188 billion text messages in 2010, which was an increase of 174 billion text messages from the year 2000. Text messaging earned its spot on my list for the simple reason that it is almost exclusively used between friends and family members. It is almost always pleasant to receive a text message, and you don’t have to sift through junk mail or spam (not the delicacy of Hawaii). Texting is also a great way to avoid meeting people in the lonely world around you. Just observe people waiting somewhere, anywhere for that matter, and calculate the percentage of people using their phones. Or the next time you exit a movie theater, watch how quickly and how many people instantly pull out their phones. This generation would rather walk straight into traffic than make eye contact with the world around them.
Carrier pigeon. These guys are awesome and next on my list. Though I have never received a message via carrier pigeon, I would imagine it would be delivering very important news that I would want to give my undivided attention. As a bonus, have you ever had Squab? Not only could you shoot the messenger, but you could have him with coriander, turmeric, and garlic.
Finally, reaching the top of the correspondence totem pole is postage mail, or what has been referred to in an unaffectionate manner as, “snail mail.” How spoiled have we become; it used to take between 9 and 11 days to send mail cross country through the Pony Express, and now, our “snail mail” can be delivered overnight. A quick side note: Garden snails can have up to 14,175 teeth, and the Australian Trumpet (Syrinx Aruanus) snail, is the largest of all snails, at 30 inches in shell length, and weighs in at a slimy 40 lbs.
Now, that whole ridiculous introduction into which forms of written communication I deem most worthy of our time, was to get me to my main point, five paragraphs later. I simply want people to consider hand writing “Thank You” notes to the people around them that matter most. We do it for physical gifts, but why not for the intangible, yet more important gift of friendship?
I run the risk of sounding dramatic, but imagine standing at a family member or friend’s funeral with a page full of nice, encouraging words for them, that you never conveyed while they were living. What a waste. Those words do no justice to the dead.
P.S. You’ll also feel incredible (as will the recipient) and accomplished afterwards.