Friday, March 3, 2017

Millennial Pen Pals

Although many Millennials use online/social media to keep up with their friends, the joy of finding a letter in the mailbox still appeals to some. Emily and Francesca became pen pals when they were kids attending a drama club together. They kept writing as they grew up and eventually met again.

“For me, the excitement of opening an envelope and reading handwritten scrawl trumps clicking on an email any day,” Francesca Street writes in an article in The Telegraph.  Read their full story at The Telegraph’s website.

The two British girls found their pen pals by simply exchanging addresses with someone they met, and that’s a great way to find someone to write to. If you’re looking for a pen pal, that’s an option to consider the next time you’re involved in a group that includes people from different areas. It can work with kids who attend camp or other group activities or adults who go to a retreat or conference.

Another way for children to find pen pals is for an adult in their lives to arrange such a friendship. For example, school teachers, scout troop leaders, church leaders, etc. can contact a similar group across the country or even around the world and suggest a letter exchange. Parents can get in touch with their old high school friends or even distant relatives who have similarly aged kids and get the pen pal ball rolling.

Other ways of finding pen pals is to register with online groups, such as Postcrossing, Send Something, The Letter Exchange, International PenFriends, Student Letter Exchange, etc.  Other places to find pen pals: bloggers who write about letter writing often post their addresses and will write back; swap websites sometimes offer opportunities for members to state whether or not they’re interested in letter exchanges; some mail artists might be interested in a pen pal.

The main thing to keep in mind when you’re seeking a pen pal is to go about it safely. Don’t put out there on the Internet information about how you’re a lonely person living by yourself seeking friendship from anyone. You’ll open yourself up to all sorts of scams and potential danger. If possible, get a P.O. Box or use a work address. Check reviews of any pen pal services, and be aware that several online sites that call themselves “Pen Pal Services” are for online communication only and seem more like dating services than innocent pen pal connections.

A good rule of thumb is to use the same precautions you use when posting something online. Don’t give out too much information; verify who you’re writing to; if someone asks for money or even a favor, consider terminating the friendship immediately. Most pen pals never ask for anything but a letter in return; although, mutual exchanges of low-cost items, such as stationery, local newspaper, candy, etc. are common.

If you are interested in writing more letters, there are plenty of opportunities for you to find like-minded pen pals!

Happy letterwriting!

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