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Postcrossing: Real Mail From Real People

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

I have been an avid letter writer since a small child; I grew up with family that lived overseas, and I also had many pen-friends all over the world. From very early on I became accustomed to the excitement associated with receiving mail from abroad.

There is something truly special about hand-written notes, thoughts relayed straight from the heart, to the hand, to the paper. No room for editing or re-writes, genuine human to human contact… it’s permanent, and I think we’ve lost a lot of this warmth and effort in our tap-tap send culture.

Someone else who feels the same way about connecting with others through mail is Portuguese born, Slovenia based, self proclaimed computer geek, and lover of the written word, Paulo Magalhaes.  Whilst at University Paulo decided to take his off-line hobby online, and created a website that would enable people all over the globe to connect through sending postcards.

Postcrossing (www.postcrossing.com) is a site that allows people to “Send a Postcard and receive a postcard back from a random person somewhere in the world.” It’s a pretty cool project and really simple to get involved; the idea is that if you send a postcard, you will receive at least one postcard back from a postcrosser elsewhere. First you have to register your address and set up a profile, say a little about yourself,  and state what type of postcards you’re interested in receiving (for example,  postcards of animals, city images, country landscapes or famous people.) Then you request an address. This address is connected to the postcrosser’s profile, and has an ID number attached to it. You then write your postcard, include the ID number, and once the person you have sent it to receives the card, they register the number and somebody else in the world gets your address, so that you too can receive a card.

The site has been running for over a year and so far has registered over three million postcards. There are many nifty Postcrossing stories on the site, like the Finnish and Australian couple who wrote to each other and ended up getting married, or the old man in his 60’s who has been enamoured with lighthouses since childhood, and now receives nothing but pictures of  the sea front buildings from all over the globe.

So far I’ve received two postcards, one from a 50 year old woman living a small village in Japan, who’s interested in architecture from around the world, and another from a 21 year old girl living in Poland, who loves music and small animals. Part of the fun is you never know who’s going to write to you next!

So why would you want to Postcross? As I’ve said there’s something exciting about receiving mail from another country, maybe from a place you’ve never been before, a far away country with customs and traditions that are different than your own, it’s also a great way to establish new friendships whilst learning about another way of life.

Leanda is a writer based in Toronto. For the past 13 years she has hosted & produced music radio shows, managed bands & worked in online music PR. She now runs a music site & also writes for music & culture magazine `Relevant BCN`. Read more of her writing here - http://www.bloggertronix.com