by Suzanne Reisler Litwin
Oh, how I miss the simple pleasures of receiving mail. When mail passes through the mail slot of my front door, I usually get excited. The anticipation of, what am I going to receive today, is fun. But… Lately, I’m disappointed. I’ve been receiving mostly advertisement flyers. Where are the love letters? Where is the interesting news? Where are the anniversary, friendship or birthday cards? How’s about an exciting invitation to a party? Nothing really interesting passes through my mail slot anymore. Most of my mail is now in an environmentally friendly email format. It’s just not that much fun.
I love mail. I send it. I value it. I even collect beautiful stamps! I won’t let go of it.
This week I got paid. I didn’t get a cheque. I got a direct deposit payment into my bank account. The money I earn is now virtual. Nowadays, I don’t need to take money out of my bank account. I can pay for whatever I need with my debit card and/or the banking app on my phone. Sure, it’s convenient and practical, but it doesn’t feel real. I want to hold the money I’ve earned in my hands and pay for the goods or services with it. This is what I want to do… but I don’t.
When I was much younger, I would save all the money I could. I would save the money I received for my birthday, from my lemonade stand, from garage sales, and family holidays. I would count it often. I loved the security of having money saved. I would buy whatever I wanted. I would save it for amazing arts and crafts sets or a new outfit for my Barbie doll that my heart was aching for.
Years ago, I would get a pay cheque. I would take it to the Royal Bank of Canada on the corner of my street. Stella, my favourite teller, would deposit my cheque and withdraw some cash for me. At that time, $100.00 got me through the week easily. This was before cell phones, debit cards, and ATMs. I spoke to Stella weekly. She knew about my life and I knew about hers. She was so kind, lovely and interesting. Today, the money I earn seems digital and flat faced. My digital life seems more Stepford-like every day! Robotic, unfeeling and unnatural.
When I go to the checkout counter to pay for my groceries, the cashier always leans towards the credit/debit terminal, anticipating it will be used more than the cash register tray. I wonder, when kids play “Store”, do they still play with a toy cash register and money? Do kids pretend using money? Will the game Monopoly need to be changed as the exchange of money and earning is the main purpose of the game? Will Monopoly be created with a debit card and go digital?
It seems every morning my newspaper gets thinner and thinner. I love my morning ritual of reading the newspaper with breakfast. I open it up big and full covering my counter. I scan and read, scan and read, and sip on my breakfast tea. The light in my kitchen is dim and relaxing. I’m not quite ready to sit in front of my computer and work, yet alone read the news online. I need this quiet time to study the news … in my face. Every other week, I learn about another newspaper stopping their print edition. Newspapers are going online. That’s not a good place to get the word out or is Twitter the new newspaper?
“Hear All About It!” “Hot Off the Press!” “Scandals and Rascals!” Those were the anthems of the corner newspaper boys. How is the news going to jump off the screen and grab your attention? Perhaps computer screens need to be 3-D like the newspaper boys?
I need to hold my paper. I need to touch my paper. I need this connection to the news, via the paper. NOT THE SCREENS! Maybe I’m just old fashion. I certainly sound old fashion, ugh!
My love of coins, stamps, and newspapers seem to be a dying art form. Will all this be replaced by a smartphone? This digital life lacks personality, texture, creativity, beauty and the human contact. It’s so static and cold. I don’t like it, but I do participate in it.
I rather make that telephone call to a friend, instead of text message. I rather send that birthday card in the mail, instead of sending an e-card. I rather deposit my paycheque in the bank and spend some time with Stella. I rather send paper invitations through the mail, than send a mass emailing to a bunch of people. I rather have a love connection with the world, than a digital romance with my smartphone.
I need to hold it. I need to touch it. I need to feel the significance of life’s human existence or who really exist? ME! That’s who!
Suzanne Reisler Litwin is an instructor at Concordia University in The Centre for Continuing Education. She is a writing instructor at The Cummings Centre. She writes a weekly column in The Suburban Newspaper and at the West Island Blog. Suzanne is a freelance contributor to The Suburban Newspaper, West Island Blog, Wise Women Canada, The Metropolitain, and Women on the Fence. She is the author of the children’s book, The Black Velvet Jacket. Visit suzannereislerlitwin.com to read more of her published articles, books, and poetry.