Personal touch is missing from today's mail

Published: Monday, January 2, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 1, 2006 at 11:06 p.m.
Here we go again. Whenever Uncle Sam raises the price of postage, I voice my complaint. Yes, I've written about this subject before, many times since the early 1940s. Each time I howl louder.
Thanks to a requirement by Congress that the Postal Service establish a $3.1 billion escrow account, the independent Postal Rates Commission has approved increases on all postal activities. First class stamp prices will rise 2 cents. And the penny postcard will now be 24 cents. Postal raises will impact all postal activities. However, bulk mail increases will be more moderate.
Without the mandate, the Postal Service said it would not have to raise rates. The service has more than $69 billion in annual revenue. It would be interesting to know what the government plans to do with the $3.1 billion escrowed each year. Perhaps this is a way to help offset the big tax cuts for the wealthiest. Use your imagination for variations on the use of these dollars.
While electronic communications such as the Internet and fax have taken some business from the post office, there has been an increase in income from advertising mail.
Before the days of computers and e-mail, I treasured the trip to my mailbox and the joy of a real letter or card. Today, my box is stuffed with advertising. It raises my hackles to know that I am paying for every piece of junk mail.
Although e-mail is faster and cheaper, it does not replace the personal touch that is conveyed by a snail-mail birthday card, Valentine card or love letter. An e-mail address is not a substitute for the hand-written signature.
In addition, whatever you have written on e-mail is eternally saved in some mysterious cyberspace. It can be easily accessed and perhaps one day will haunt you. Many believe that, at the present time, some e-mail is monitored and censored. It is rumored that there are plans to increase censorship and possibly add a charge to the use of the e-mail.
We know that government and corporate misbehavior can be, and is, revealed through e-mail searches.
I think of libraries filled with biographies and autobiographies that feature letters - the correspondence of Ellen Terry and George Bernard Shaw, the letters between John and Abigail Adams, and countless other historic documents. Although e-mail messages are said to linger forever in cyberspace, I doubt that they will be found in libraries or on collectors' bookshelves.
The love affair with the computer and electronic communications has not only deprived us of the human touch, but it has resulted in degradation of language skills. This is especially noted in today's youth, raised from kindergarten to use and depend on computer communications.
We are urged to be prepared for all kinds of catastrophes. Here in Florida, we are vulnerable to hurricanes and tornadoes and the subsequent loss of electric power. We store water, flashlights, candles, batteries, radios, canned and packaged foods and first aid equipment.
Perhaps we should add pencils, pens, dictionaries, paper, envelopes, postage to that list.
Doris Bardon lives in Gainesville.

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