The Decline of the Postal Service

How many of you have sent a letter to someone in the last year? That wasn’t to your grandparents? That wasn’t an invite or thank-you card? When was the last time you sent a letter to someone just because?
How many of you have an email? Texting? Facebook? The vast majority of teens have a cell phone or access to a computer and tend to prefer to communicate this way. Technology is quicker now, we can send an email to china in just one click, when it would normally take about two weeks the old fashioned way.
But for some people their entire community is focused around their post office. For 70 year old Delmer Clark his town lost communication from the rest of the world last year. In a little town called Holmes Mill in eastern Kentucky there are no cable or cell phone lines. Not even a stoplight. Their local school closed down a few years ago and now their post office has closed as well.
This is not uncommon, this year 2,000 post offices will close. The first ones to go will be the ones with the smallest income; which will come from towns like Holmes Mill, where their community is centered on this old landmark of our history.
Esther Sizemore is a 62-year-old retired school-bus driver. She doesn’t own a computer, and has hip arthritis that makes driving difficult. Ms. Sizemore drives down the street to the post office to mail her handmade quilts, gossip with friends and pick up packages, since she does her shopping by catalog. Using a post office box is safer for her; mail thefts have been a problem in her area recently. Her post office will be closed by the end of this year.
But the citizens are not the only ones affected by the sudden drop of our postal service. $8.5 billion were lost last year and in the past ten years they have cut a third of their employees.
With such a decrease in mail use and spending cuts during our recession the government feels the need to go to extremes. Saturday mail may be a thing in the past in a few years. The topic was recently proposed last spring, while it has been nixed by Congress in earlier years, this may be the best solution for present day. They hope that with the post offices closed on the weekend it will lower costs and affect the least amount of businesses. But with the post office closed all weekend what will the workers do to support themselves? 5 days instead of 6 means less hours, which means less pay.
This can also create a chain effect. A man owns an internet site that sells handmade shoes. While it would normally take 5-7 business days to ship, with Saturdays gone that will increase it to 6-10 days, which makes it less appealing to buyers. It also affects his suppliers, and it will take longer for him to get the materials he needs to make his shoes. Making him fall behind schedule and taking him longer to ship out his merchandise. If his consumers decrease so will his income; shutting him down altogether. Now this is an extreme case, but if mail volume continues to spiral downward, this may become reality.
170 billion pieces of mail was the total volume last year, the lowest it’s been in a decade. Consequently small post offices have been cutting hours, opening later on weekdays.
But with the communication advancements that we have now, why bother sending letters? Email, texting, and phone calls have overridden snail mail in the past decade. With long distance phone calls and internet we no longer need to write letters to communicate across states or even countries. So why keep this old fashioned thing that only grandparents use?
Studies have shown that writing has many health benefits. The brain exercises itself more when writing complete sentences instead of text shorthand or speaking verbally. Writing also relaxes the body and helps control your emotions. Simply writing a letter can reduce depression.
In today’s society everything is fast paced and instant. GPS’ to get where we are going quicker, ipads to connect to the internet without a computer, instant messaging so you don’t have to talk on the phone. Everything is at the touch of a button. This kind of lifestyle can be very addicting.
Life wasn’t always like this. Ask your grandparents, they’ll tell you. Even our parents didn’t have cell phones or computers at our age. We are a brand new generation. But like all things, this comes at a price. All electronics can be addicting and make us lazy. Because of the increase in texting, 64% of teenagers use text sayings in writing. How many of you have done that at school before? It’s not surprising given the amount teens text, once habits are formed they tend to spread into other areas of life.
Email is another technological advancement in the past decade. Nearly everyone has one. But with spam and hackers, just how safe are they? While they are convenient, they do pose a privacy risk. Snail mail may be coming out of style, but it is much safer and private than anything on a computer.
Getting something in the mail is something that most people enjoy receiving. No, not all the junk mail and bills, but cards from family members or a postcard from a friend. It shows that someone out there took the time to sit down and think of you. Snail mail uses four of the five senses: touch, sight, smell, and hearing; while Email only uses sight. Mail also has the benefit of not having spam or a virus. It is a simple way to keep in touch with loved ones and can help improve your language. Writing letters of recommendation and resumes are used many times throughout life. By honing your writing skills and not neglecting them through writing letters you can improve your chances of getting a job.
Writing a letter can be a safe and thoughtful way of showing someone you care. Not only does it benefit you health wise, but it can help improve someone else’s life as well; starting with the mailman, to the postal workers, to the receiver. One tiny thing can end up making a huge difference for everyone.





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