Postcards and privacy

Today I was at the paper shop to buy a new stash of postcards. An elderly lady was looking at some Easter cards and she complained about the price, because she also needed an envelop for it. So I said, no, no envelop, it is so much nicer to receive a postcard with the stamps on the back. But she didn’t agree. She said that nowadays you can’t write something personal on an open card.

I assume that we, as postcrossers, don’t agree. Do you ever think about what you write, if the post worker is going to read it? And what they might think about the recipient when they get that card?

My messages are always quite decent haha, but I can think of cases that may raise an eyebrow. When I think about places with different religion or politics something decent for me, might not be decent at all…


Going by the videos on YouTube of mail distribution centres - I have doubts that the postal workers have time to read my cards.

And if we’re talking mail carriers, trying to finish sending out everything on their route before the day ends, I also don’t think they’ll take the time to read my card.

But I treat my writing on the card as though anyone and everyone will read it - so nothing private or secret on them


I would think an “Easter” card or a “Christmas” card would need an envelope?

well, my messages to people on the official site are in general safe for everyone to read. i don’t write crazy secrets or anything to strangers.
but i do write some more personal stuff sometimes on cards to people on the forum and even more so to my penfriends. if i would confess a murder i would probably put it in an envelope, but i honestly don’t see a problem with anything else. postal workers don’t even know who i am. it might be fun for them to read my cards but then what? they are most likely not gonna google me.

however i am careful about what to write to some specific countries. for example i’ve read a few times that it’s not safe to send my queer cards to russia without envelope, or even write about it. so i always try to keep such things in mind.


Similar concerns arose at the same time that postcards were invented. Then people got used to writing open letters :slight_smile:


And why would those need envelopes?


In USA, we do not exchange holiday postcards like that, but folded greeting cards normally.

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Yes, it was hard to find Easter cards as postcards. In The Netherlands they are more common as greeting cards with envelopes. But that is besides the point, if that is the reason to put a holiday card in an envelope.

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That was one person’s opinion. Most people assume that postcard messages can be read by others, for instance: sometimes delivered to the wrong address?

The main reason for greetings cards in envelope is
a) you can add paper money
b) the message can be way longer, as you have not only the space of 1/2 of a postcard - you have fourth time the space of that.

And privacy, this reminds me - oh damn I forgot always to add my bank account number, my social security number and passport number - I have to add this on my next postcard, right next to my address and my picture.


Well i don’t write stuff on it that is too personal i think. The postworkers… first of all i don’t think they will have the time to read it… but when they do… it’s maybe one or two people.
On the other hand… Youtube i think is a way different story.
I follow some Youtubers who show the postcards they got… showing the front… fine. Showing the stamps… fine. Telling which country the card is from… fine.
But some Youtubers are getting as far as telling the name of the person who send it and the story they wrote on the back. Now those two i think are going too far.
I personally wouldn’t like that in my case. I write something for the person whom i send the card to… not for hundreds of people on the internet as well. And since my name is not very usual… after seeing someone sharing that much info on Youtube , i am really considering now, to send the card under my nickname and not my real name anymore.
So i think, people on Youtube shouldn’t be sharing that… at least not without asking the persons who they got the card from.


Slightly off-topic, but one of my favorite tricks when I want to write more than would fit in the message area of a picture postcard is to use a postal card.

It’s still open correspondence, but it provides roughly twice the message area!

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That reminds me of the times I passed my US postal cards on to my US penfriends :laughing:


@mamvanvier Great post! I almost hope that other people read what I write, and assume they will. I tend to reserve greeting cards for longer / more personal messages.

I’m probably in the minority of folks who will occasionally write deeply personal things on postcards and also sign my full name. I find it liberating to take ownership over what might otherwise cause me extreme anxiety.

I tend to especially enjoy these cards when I receive them. Keep on fighting the good fight and raise those eyebrows to the ceiling!


I’m mindful of what I write in general - I don’t want to offend the receiver - so even if, say, their profile said “I hate Star Trek. Everyone who watches it is stupid. I don’t want postcards from Star Trek fans,” I would write a nice message and not mention that I’m a Star Trek fan.

If I’m sending a card to a country I know has certain beliefs, even if I don’t know what the Postcrosser believes, I’ll be extra-careful so the Postcrosser doesn’t get in trouble, No LGBTQIA2S+ / swimsuit / religion / certain holiday cards unless the Postcrosser wants them and I send them in an envelope to certain countries. I even avoid using USPS stamps that celebrate certain holidays or people to certain countries.


I got an card from Indonesia last week and that one came with parelpost, since for some reason we had to sign for receipt.

He was our regular delivery man and he told me that he read what was written on the card, so it does happen but when I write a postcard I keep it decent too. I sent since I started with postcrossing on a regular basis cards to my best friend in the US, but those I do indeed put in an envelope for private reasons and also I send her weird ones who I can’t sent anybody else. I bought a stack of boomerang cards not nothing what they were so… :roll_eyes:

So I do understand the lady’s comment but if if you keep it very general, who cares if the postman reads it or family members…

@Magnolia7777 wow, I agree with you 100%. I haven’t looked at youtube in respect to postcrossing, but thanks for the warning!

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I am quite private and careful about what I share publicly in general but I am fine with the idea of people reading personal things on my postcards as an abstract stranger, but not with it being linked to me individually. So I don’t think twice about writing private messages and sending them (without a return address, and without even a name if I’m feeling extra vulnerable) to my penpal on the other side of the world — if her postie or neighbour reads it, I don’t care as they can’t connect it with me personally — but I would be more concerned about sending one close to me or with a return address as I feel there’s more risk of someone close to me (or even in my home) reading it.

In principle, I like the idea that when I write something vulnerable on a postcard other people might read it along the way and feel less alone if they also have similar experiences. But I have also had multiple people on swap platforms post public thank yous online that are along the lines of “@plushmail thank you for telling me all about this specific deep personal thing on your card” so I no longer send truly personal things to strangers I’ve met though forums or social media as I’ve learned that some people who are fine with sharing info about themselves online don’t realise this sentiment isn’t universal.


You are welcome :slight_smile:

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I live in a tiny town. Everyone knows everyone. And while the route mail workers are very busy, the counter workers have confessed to reading my postcards several times. So, yes, they can be read. Does it bother me? Nope. It’s “open mail”. If they want to talk about the topics I write about I’ll tell them the same things. And yes, at times it’s personal, but if I didn’t want it out there, I shouldn’t have put it on a postcard.


I’ve had post office workers comment on things I’ve put on my cards, and I do admit it makes me a little uncomfortable :frowning: That said, I generally don’t write anything incredibly personal on a card - my attitude to postcrossing is the same level of familiarity that I have with a new friend, if that makes sense?

I might say I’ve studied a librarianship course but not name the university, that sort of thing.
And like others said I always read the person’s profile/location and pick things that they like and are safe to send.