postcrossing

29Sep09

A few months into my library school voyage, I started to foster a longing for more personal connections than what my life was affording.  The formality of the discussion boards was too impersonal, and Facebook was just making me miss my friends and family that much more.  No matter how many two-minute conversations with customers and co-workers I could squeeze into a shift at work, it never seemed to add up to one whole meaningful exchange.  In a fit of desperation, I sent out handwritten letters to some of my friends and family.  I started writing the conversational type of letters that reminded me of those my friends and I would swap while we were away at summer camp.  They gave me a serious case of the warm fuzzies as I set them by the mailbox.  I thought to myself, this is the start of something really cool.

I got one letter back.

(thanks, Grandma)

I’ve since learned how to add a social component to my school/work/life balance, so that feeling of disconnect is a thing of the past.  Regardless, I still had a little yearning for traditional written communication.  The time involved, the process, the patience… the idea of writing letters strikes me as a labor of love.  So when my friend/classmate/colleague Erin (a much cooler librarian than I will ever be) turned me on to something called Postcrossing, I could hardly contain myself.

Postcrossing is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.  Once you register for the site, you can send postcards to people all over the world.  A noob like me can have up to five postcards traveling to different locations at one time, a number that increases with your activity on the site.  Every time a postcard reaches its destination, someone else will send one to you.  The site offers the option to swap cards directly, and some users spark up a penpal relationship, but I haven’t tried either of these yet.

One of the things that I love about Postcrossing is the time involved.  It doesn’t take long to send out a few postcards, but it takes up to two weeks to reach its destination.  Then, it takes a while for a card to find its way into my mailbox.  For my first experience, I had nearly forgotten about the site.  When that first postcard slipped out of the pennysaver and dropped onto the porch, my whole day was made.

Of course, it’s really rad to get postcards from strangers around the world.  So far, I’ve received cards from Finland, Netherlands, Alaska, and Spain.  You can take a look at my Postcrossing experiences over here.  While you’re there, you should poke around and really consider joining the site.  You can participate as much or as little as you want.  One postcard that I sent out yesterday went to a seven-year-old in Finland whose big sister was helping her with the site.

The best thing about Postcrossing is knowing that there are so many people out there who are putting the time and effort into something that gives just as much as it takes.  Whenever I get a new postcard, I think about how something I’ve done has impacted a complete stranger in such a positive way.  In my days of two-minute conversations and dry discussion board threads, it’s nice to put real effort into reaching out to someone.

Thanks, Erin :)

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6 Responses to “postcrossing”

  1. 1 Blythe

    Ok, so the postcard of Cordoba (I have an ancestor from Cordoba/Cordova) got me going already, and the thought of doing this with my 11 year old son is lots of fun. I am going to see if he wants to start doing this. Way cool!

  2. Karen: This is great. Thank you.

  3. Hi! I found your site through a random twitter search on Postcrossing. I’m glad you like it! I have completely become addicted to it. I got impatient waiting for my postcards to arrive, so I started poking around the forums for other ways to connect to people. There are lots of tags and round robins to do, in addition to the “official” exchange. This morning I sent out 32 postcards in a round robin. Obviously that’s quite a bit, but you don’t have to do that many. It’s a great way to fill the time between receiving official cards, and you can do as many or as few as you like!

  4. this is a cool idea. I might try this with my 11 and 8 year olds. thanks for the idea, and glad you’re enjoying it.

  5. 5 karenthelibrarian

    Blythe: the funny thing is, that postcard is from a librarian in Cordoba! I got a kick out of that.

  6. Hey Karen :) Thanks for the shout out, and I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying Postcrossing. I actually heard about it from another librarian on Twitter, so it’s nice to know the word keeps spreading with our uber social networking skills haha. I started doing it for the same reasons, I missed personal contact and getting mail other than junk. And I got one from a librarian once too! So weird because the addresses are selected at random. I actually just bought this (http://www.momastore.org/museum/moma/ProductDisplay_Postcard%20Picture%20Holder_10451_10001_61059) to display my postcards. I kinda want to buy like 5 of them and have an amazing wall of postcards in my apartment! It makes me think about the lives of all those people and feel more connected. :)


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