History lost in email

By Heather McCracken

Posties may soon be delivering mail only three times a week.

The cost-cutting measure is being considered by New Zealand Post because we're not sending letters anymore.

We email and Skype and post on Facebook, but don't bother to write things down and pop them in the post.

For me, the mailbox has become a vehicle for newspapers and large quantities of junk mail, among which the occasional bill sometimes gets lost.

So while non-daily mail seems like a retreat to a less civilised age, when I consider how little mail I actually receive, it's hard to argue that the postie should wheel past every day.

The move to electronic communication has happened for good reason - it's quick, cheap, fast and easy to tack on files or photographs.

But it's also easily disposable, and the sheer volume of online transactions we make means we can't keep them all. You read and delete.

When my father's family emigrated from Northern Ireland to New Zealand more than 50 years ago, the only way they had of communicating with family on both sides of the world was by letter.

We still have some of those letters. They were long and detailed, full of news and stories and humour, beautifully written and full of the details of daily life that we, looking back half a century later, would otherwise know nothing about.

Not quite that long ago, when I was studying in Auckland, I exchanged letters with my brother, who was at university in Dunedin. I still have some of those letters, which I hope to use to embarrass him in front of his children someday.

But I don't expect I'll have any record of most of the communication I've had with him since.

What will happen to that record of our past, when we no longer have any of our emails or Facebook posts or text messages?

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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