I’ve always loved the idea of penpals. Despite the dying art of real letter writing, I think I’d really get into it. These days I’m sure it would be easier to find someone who would write you emails than to use a pen and paper, but that’s okay too. Getting to know someone entirely through what they write of themselves seems intriguing and mysterious to me, and as such holds huge appeal.
These days we get to know each other on the internet, through profile pictures and pithy tweets and status updates, texts and instagram pictures, snapchats and tinder. (I admit, I use all of those except tinder.) When we meet someone we’re interested in we look them up, sometimes we even google them, we learn all kinds of little details about them without them every knowing what we know of them. To be honest, even a cursory appraisal of someone’s profile who you’re not well acquainted with could be considered creepy… before social media networks it would be the equivalent of reading their diary, scrolling through emails, or getting their full history from a mutual friend. If someone did any of those things we would feel violated and exploited. But instead, since we have ‘control’ of what can be seen on our social profiles, we don’t mind anymore that someone can learn our life history without ever having to speak to us. I find that backwards.
That’s a huge part of why the concept of a penpal so much appeals to me. There’s no pressure. Even just the time between correspondence which allows the anticipation of answers to build sounds utterly delicious. Sure, we’re all about that instant gratification – information easily at hand – but I’m definitely more down for the suspense of waiting.
When I was in the 3rd grade, my first year that I went to a proper school, I remember that our class got anonymous penpals from the other 3rd grade class. We weren’t told anything about the person, we just had to write a letter per week to our penpal and await their reply. That was pretty much the only thing I liked about the 3rd grade. We were supposed to ask them questions and tell them things about ourselves to see if we could guess who each other were. (This was a bit of a moot point since we never spent even a little time with the other class, so we couldn’t possibly have guessed.) At the end of the year if we hadn’t guessed then the teachers were gonna tell us. Unfortunately we moved away before the end of the year and I never discovered who my penpal was.
Anyway. Even though it would be super hard to have an anonymous penpal because you’d kind of need a name to send a letter, or an email, whatever – it’s still my life’s ambition to find myself a penpal. Who knows, it could happen! I think I’ll make it my mission over the next year to finally find one. Wish me luck!