Random Thoughts

A Luddite's lament

... email: anal, awful, imposing, mostly unwanted

by Dorothy O'Connor

"Luddite. A member of any of various bands of workers in England (1810-16) organized to destroy manufacturing machinery, under the belief that its use diminished employment. Named after Ned Ludd, 18th century Leicestershire worker who originated the idea." Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, 2003 Barnes & Noble Publishing, Inc.

My husband Russell Berg sometimes hurls the epithet "Luddite" at me when I resist his beloved new technology. A case in point is e-mail. It took me some years to embrace the ease and speed of communicating via e-mail. Even so, when I finally did accept it, I grumbled about careless typing, spelling errors, and poor grammar. I grant you that e-mail is fast and efficient, no doubt about it. But no one in her right mind would call an e-mail message ATTRACTIVE.

When I left home to attend college, and for nearly half a century afterward, I enjoyed a many-faceted, voluminous correspondence. My parents and my sister each wrote to me on a regular basis, as did my two aunts, two grandmothers and three cousins. Then there were my peers, many of them away at other colleges; friends of my parents; and significant adults from my "coming of age" years. As I went through life and my circle of friends expanded, so did the volume and variety of my incoming mail.

The trip to the mailbox was an exciting part of the daily routine. I looked forward to receiving long chatty letters from some friends, exquisitely crafted cards from others, notes written on unusually designed stationery, notes that featured unexpected color combinations, notes bearing motifs that reflected themes dear to me and the writer.

Nowadays a trip to the mailbox yields bills, catalogs, unwanted offers of new credit cards - all of those, but precious few letters. I plead guilty to being a Luddite. I am also thankful that I lived at a time when receiving the day's mail was such a pleasurable experience.


February 2, 2007


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