The social value of cards and letters in your private life

Occasionally with periods I think a lot about friendship and social contacts. Lately, I’ve only had contact with people I know through Facebook. But actually very minimal. I regularly wrote what I was doing and then got a few likes or sometimes a short response.

No one calls me to ask how I’m doing. Nobody comes by. No one spontaneously sends an email. My mailbox is almost always empty. Even on my birthday and Christmas. Nobody actively invests in contact with me. When I send a card at Christmas, most of the time I don’t get a response, sometimes I get a card back. Because I sent a card, I also get a card back. If I didn’t send a card, I wouldn’t have gotten a card.

It didn’t feel right. I felt like I had lost touch with people at all. I had the feeling that no one is really interested. (And sometimes you just don’t have the right people around you.) I’ve thought a lot about it and I recently decided to stop using my private facebook. Not because I no longer want contact with these people, but because I want better contact with them (and other people).

I realized that I now can show that I know someone’s birthday because I send a card or e-mail with the birthday. I immediately got excited to make a birthday calendar. E-mail or a letter forces you also to tell something about yourself, about how you are doing, about what you are doing and to ask the other how it is going or to respond to what the other wrote. It goes a bit further than the short, general communication on social media. Some people regularly comment on social media, but don’t share how they are doing or what is happening in their lives.

Now that I think about it a lot, I realize even more the value and meaning of cards and letters, because it brings together all kinds of elements that are important for a good relationship (regardless of the type of relationship, friendship, good neighbors, family etc).

That you invest in the relationship, (time, effort, money), that you are involved (you send a birthday card, you ask how someone is doing, you ask how things are going), that you open yourself up (that you tell something about yourself or your experiences or opinion about a subject) and that you also think about the other person. There are probably more that I won’t mention right now.

My grandmother used to send me postcards. With Easter, on my birthday, at Christmas, when she was going somewhere for a day, or when she was on vacation. I really liked that. It was so nice that she always thought of me. She wished me a happy Easter, a merry Christmas, a nice birthday and much more and also shared what she experienced when she went somewhere for a day or was on vacation. She passed away years ago. But I still think about it often.

I am very happy with postcrossing and a penpal I recently met here on the forum. Otherwise my mailbox would remain empty almost all year round. I hope it changes in the future. That we will send more letters and cards in our private lives again, with friends and family, just like in the past.

What value do postcards and letters have in your social life, in your private life with friends and family?
Do you send postcards/letters to friends and family? How often and on what occasions?
Do you regularly receive postcards/letters from friends and family and how important is that to you?
Do postcards and letters have a social value for you in your private life?

Added 18-07 / 23:08:
What can we do to encourage family and friends to send mail now and then?


Hi. Like you, I have reduced my Facebook posting. When I was young (in my teens and my 20s), I sent a lot of letters. That dropped off after my 30s. In pre-Covid days, when I traveled, I would always send postcards to people from my vacations. I also used to send Christmas cards every year. Now that I’m in my 50s, I still write letters and send cards, but I am much more judicious on how I expend my energy. I pay attention to who reciprocates the letter writing and card sending. I no longer waste my time on sending cards, letters, etc., to those who don’t appreciate it, or who never write me back. There has to be an even energy exchange for me now. This is one of the reasons why I love Postcrossing. I send a postcard, and I get one back eventually. My mom used to send me cards for every occasion: St. Patricks Day, Valentines Day, Halloween, etc. No holiday was too small. Now she has dementia and she no longer can send me cards. I dearly miss receiving her cards.


I used to travel often, sending a card from most places to my grandmother until she died 15 years ago. My cousin (same grandmother), who introduced me to this site, sends cards every so often. My mailbox would be quite empty as well. So far, there is one member with whom I’ve exchanged cards without a specific reason… just sent to send them.

I’m hoping to display some of the nicer cards I’ve received at some point as a reminder how thoughtful people can be.


I had the same experience and same feeling with my friends. Those days I put lot of efforts to make and send birthday cards and Christmas cards to my friends. Some of them sent me cards and others never bothered to send anything. Then I realize its only a one way game and stop sending anything. Since then Ive not received anything from my friends and Ive not sent anything to them.
Not even e-mails, e-cards, nothing.
Poscrossing is a life changer. I owe this community a lot. I met so many wonderful people here. Some are very dear and near and always care about me and my daughter. Now I have a filled mailbox everyday. And I really do love to exchange cards in this community. I receive so much of love and care and I adore each and every card/mail I receive.
To answer your question;
No, I do not send mails to my friends or relatives and I will not. Its just so stressful and make me so sad to send mails or cards to my friends who really don’t care about receiving them.
For me, receiving a card is really a big thing. It makes me so happy.
Thank you postcrossing. I always owe you a big thank :pray: :pray:


I have no social (anti-social I think) media. I have a great neighbourhood phone we have built and pen pals.


Every 2 weeks I send a postcard to my mom, in another city. For me, this is a way to show her that I always remember her and say kind words. But I started doing it only when I got carried away with postcrossing, before that it somehow did not occur to me. Then I had a lot of stocks of postcards and beautiful stamps to send via postcrossing, and I thought, “If I send beautiful postcards to strangers, why not do it for my mom?” For the holidays, I send postcards and gifts to relatives and family in another city. I don’t expect anything in return (and I don’t get it), for me it’s just a way to maintain a physical connection with loved ones, to express my care and love. I love receiving letters and postcards, but it only gives me postcrossing.


I love that you’re doing this for your mom and for family members at the holidays. :gift_heart:
Good that you don’t expect anything in return. Actually, that is unconditional love as it should be in friendship and family relations.

But, it would be nice if you also got something in return. Even if it may be occasionally.

I hope they feel as loved by your letters/postcards/gifts as I am by my grandmother’s postcards. And as others also describe some family members.

I understand that not everyone is like you and me. But I think everyone can do something in their own way. That they show that they care about you and appreciate your letters/cards/gifts, even if it is via email or telephone.

But… in the end, mail is our “love language”. Why is it that people don’t think: “Letters and cards make him/her happy. Maybe one day I can send a letter or card.” Even if it’s just every now and then, it’s so important to us. I think.


I keep my best friends’ addresses and send them postcards while traveling. I don’t ask for a return since it’s just me showing love and care, but it does upset me when they don’t do the same to me while traveling.
For my family it’s a different situation. After all my parents gave me everything they can :smiling_face:


Sweet Marleen, @Molletje I sat here awhile thinking what message would resonate with you and so many others who feel alone in a gathering. It is not uncommon by the way, and you are certainly not alone. People need people, we are a social species, otherwise we would be in a cabin far into the woods with no internet- ISOLATED. So allow me to share something that was shared with me by a mentor who is long gone from this earth. “ our disappointment in people is our expectations of them, we think if we do something that says” I was thinking of you” they reciprocate…not soooooo…that is where things you are grateful for…start this today -


And to answer your question, I came here with no expectations at all, I was curious how our world is changing and how this wonderful project brings strangers together. We are not that different, we all want to be loved and we all want to be happy. I am both.


First of all, thank you for asking this question, it is definitely something to ponder.

Secondly, I agree with you that while social media makes it easy to keep tabs on/communicate with people, it does not necessarily encourage greater connection. I have 200 some friends on Facebook (it used to be over 600 on a previous account that I deleted), but I hardly interact with most of them on a regular basis.

I make an effort to text/call close friends and family on a semi-regular basis, but I have also taken up more regular letter writing once again, and that has helped build connections in a different way. I wrote a lot to pen pals as a kid and teen, but then got busy with college, work, grad school, etc…now that I am more settled once again and not quite as busy, I have more time to write letters and cards. Sometimes I get a response, sometimes not, but I still try to send something out when I am thinking of someone important to me. It’s not always for a birthday or holiday, sometimes it’s just a random, “hey, I was thinking of you and I hope all is well.”

For my own birthday & Christmas, I don’t receive a lot of cards, but I definitely appreciate those people who take the time to send something.

I also have realized the importance of initiating. If there is someone I care about, and I want that relationship to be closer than just liking one another’s Facebook posts, I am perfectly capable of sitting down and writing a card or letter and reaching out (it sounds like you’re doing this, I am just talking about my own experience here). I did that for one of my good friends from when I was a teen, and over the past couple years we’ve started writing back and forth, and recently chatted on the phone and sent a few texts. In the past two years or so I’ve reconnected with former pen pals and forged new pen pal relationships. That plus Postcrossing means my mailbox often has something more than just junk mail, and that brings a lot of joy to my life.

I’d be happy to swap addresses if you’d like another pen pal!


I think that now, in the age of technology and progress, people are embarrassed to express their feelings in such an “old-fashioned” way as paper postcards and letters. In addition, postcards, letters and parcels require a certain amount of time, which has now become a valuable resource for many. So “snail mail” may not be popular and is not suitable for everyone. You asked: why wouldn’t someone send a postcard if they know it will make another person happy? Maybe because people are used to worrying more about their own happiness and needs. This is not selfishness, but rather a survival instinct.


Sometimes when I drop a stack of postcards into the mailbox near the post office, it seems to me that this is some kind of MAGIC. It’s like I put several items in one “magic box”, and after a while they end up in the hands of other people, thousands of kilometers away! And even I myself have no idea where this street, the house is…It’s like a magical portal to the “other world”, where you can hardly get physically, but with which there is a connection through the “magic box”. I hope my thoughts didn’t seem too strange to you :wink: I think many post-crossers are dreamers and romantics.


I had this same thought earlier today! The postal system really does seem magical, doesn’t it? :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

To answer the orignal question a bit: Postcrossing for me has a lot of social value, even if only in fleeting, tiny doses. I like spending a little bit of time writing to someone, even if it’s unlikely we’ll ever connect again. Plus I’ve met a bunch of new penpals and other connections on the forum, which I think is so wonderful. I’m excited to make friends around the world!


I don’t interact much on facebook. I post pictures when I am travelling of the area where I am or share memories that facebook reminds me of. I have a rather boring account. Very rearely I post a statement or so.

I love snail mail, though. I send letters to my penpals and postcards through Postcrossing and the forum and I love to interact this way.
I always loved sending postcards when I am traveling. So I keep doing that as well.

I have to admit I am very bad with birthdays. I never really sent a birthday card. I am crazy about Christmascards, though and send them out every year and lots of them.

I think nothing beats a letter or a postcard. Someone actually taking the time to sit down and handwrite something… Thats so much more than just writing an E-Mail.

So I don’t really like to be without snailmail anymore.


Thanks to all of you for the interesting and nice responses.
I feel heard and am so happy to see that there are people
who write letters and postcards with family and friends.

Thank you very much for your support. I can be alone very well and I am happy. But everyone, and me too, need social contacts. Unfortunately, many contacts I have/had are mainly one-sided. And that’s not good. About expectations, it’s always good to be aware of what you expect from someone and whether that’s realistic. But friendship has to come from both sides. In friendship you have a kind of right to expect that the other also invests in the contact. Everyone can do that in their own way. I don’t expect everyone I know to send me mail. They can also call or email me. They can visit. But it has to come from both sides. Thank you that you say that I matter. :gift_heart:

It’s so good to read that you can connect with people in other ways besides social media. I do that too, indeed.
It is great to read that you sent someone letters/postcards and that you are now getting a response and that you are also in contact with each other in other ways again.

I forgot to write it in my introduction message. Before leaving Facebook, I wrote anonymously in a Facebook group that I miss friendship as it should be. That both invest in the contact in all kinds of ways. There I also received reactions that people have too many problems and do not have the time and energy for it.

I think it’s a vicious circle. Because if you have friends, then you have someone to talk to, you get more ideas to solve problems, you are not alone in carrying your problems, maybe someone can help you solve problems. If you don’t have (make) the time and energy for friendship, then you have to bear all the problems alone and solve them on your own. It will then take longer for the problems to be solved and you may have a harder time.

I’m not saying that friendship solves everything. But friendships exist for a reason.
It has an important value in life. It is important to have friendship for a better life.

I think social media has also made us more closed. More social anxiety, fear of the reactions of others. We used to tell your personal things to your family and friends, now qw tell the whole world and expect everyone to like it, support you and accept it. It’s unrealistic to expect so many people to like and enjoy what you do.

Yesterday I spoke to a neighbor and he said: I have 500 FB friends, it is not possible to invest in all 500 contacts. Logical, but in real life you don’t have 500 friends. In real life, you don’t tell 500 people all those things that you now tell on Facebook. In the days without social media you had good contact with friends, family and maybe some neighbors and colleagues. No more.

He also said that contact with some people would end now that I am no longer on Facebook. Because people find it difficult to make new friends or are afraid that if they say something they will interfere too much or say something wrong. I think it’s worrying that there are people out there who have this fear and that they feel like they have a lot of friends (without saying anything) because they have “friends” on Facebook. That’s not a real friendship. If Facebook ever stops or more people move away from Facebook, then many people will be alone and unable to make friends.

I think this is a big problem.

Have we lost connection with the real world?

Nothing beats a letter or a postcard. I agree!
And yes, it’s better than an e-mail. But, an e-mail is better than only a like on FB I think so…
I see it as a step in the right direction, to at least make contact in a different way than the ‘like’ on FB. But letters and postcards are better.


Lovely responses, this community is really amazing, isn’t it?

Postcrossing is like speed dating, you have to open a lot of shells to find those pearls…


I gave up my FB account a couple years ago now. The account is still there but I seldom log-in and other than an oops where my insta post, posted on FB I haven’t posted.

I started PenPal’ing earlier this year. I think it’s a better way to get to know other humans without having their (or my) political/social causes opinions front and center all the time. My best friend and I are quite different politically but having known each other since childhood we know the journey we each took to where we are now. Most social media doesn’t allow for that understanding of the whole person. I caught myself having negative feelings for nearly total strangers over their opinions and didn’t like how negative I felt (about the state of the world) all the bleeding time.

I think getting to know people in letters is far more valuable. You learn who they are (usually) before you learn what causes they’re active in. You get to see the whole person not just that they do/don’t support this or that.

I’m an art and book nerd. I’d much rather discuss watercolor techniques or mixed media or the latest fantasy epic than write/read about political activism. And if we ever do get to politics, I’d rather know the life journey a person took to get to that place than their opinion absent that info. :woman_shrugging:t3:

I’m actually getting ready to drop a letter to my bestie even though she’s just two towns over. :joy: Why? Just for the hell of it.


When I was a little kid and my parents travelled somewhere, they would send me a postcard. I did not read them at the time, I was too little. But now when I look at them, I think it was cool that they sent me a postcard.

A postcard is kinda like saying, “I’m thinking of you”. So now when I travel, I send myself a postcard. This is great because sometimes when I forget when I went on a certain trip, I look back on the postcard and then I remember the date.

What I love about sending and receiving postcards is that someone is taking the time to write a few words and make the effort to go mail it. It’s a little piece of human connection, of doing a little something for someone else and also know that someone is doing that for you too.


I joined because I was feeling disconnected from humans. I work full time but hardly anyone is in the area of the building where I work- and I am in the type of position where I have to maintain boundaries.

I also have health issues that mean it’s hard for me to get around on my own or to do things after work. There are people that probably thought of me as a friend- but we haven’t seen each other in years and since I am not on social media I sort of don’t exist.

So postcrossing connected me to other humans. And that’s been very important to me these past few months. I have a friend who I mail things to. I am trying to draw her into postcrossing, actually….


A month ago I stopped using my personal social media accounts (like FB). And not much later I started this topic. I had the feeling that I had no contact with people. We knew each other, but the real connection was missing. I used to write a lot of postcards/letters, but in recent years I didn’t think much about it. I do not know why.

I now have two nice pen friends and several letters have been sent back and forth.
I’m starting to feel better and understand more and more why letters are so important to me.

On social media if you post a picture of your pet you might get a like or “So cute” or “My dog/cat does that too”. The answers are short en without much information. But when you write a letter, you go into the subject more quickly. You write about your pets, what they are called, how they came to you, about their behavior or perhaps an event. That way you get to know someone better.

I also notice when I experience something nice that I immediately get excited and think: I’m going to write that to her! It can also be small things. But that you want to share with someone what you are experiencing. I haven’t had that feeling in a long time.

I also notice that contact with people I know personally is getting better. If we meet on the street, for example, there are better conversations. About all kinds of small activities that people do. What I didn’t know before. Because they don’t write about that on social media.

I have also made a notebook with a calendar with important dates (birthdays, etc.) and addresses.
So that I can easily send postcards and letters and remember important days.

Of the people I was friends with on social media, I only interacted with one (outside of social media) last month. But I notice that it feels good and makes me happy to have real contact with people again. In real life and through letters and postcards.

Thanks for all the responses about your experiences in this topic so far.
I am sorry that many people have had the same negative feeling that I had, but I am glad that by sending and sometimes receiving mail you also feel better. It’s nice to see what you do for others by sending mail and how it has meaning for others and sometimes even improves contacts. I’m happy for you. :gift_heart: