Friday, January 11, 2013

Gerb Unplugged

(Actually, the bottom picture shows what I'm like when I get real mail for as long as I can remember.)

I remember well the anticipation of receiving the mail each day as a child, as a teenager, and even now as an adult.  I'm not talking about email or messages in your Facebook inbox.  I'm not talking about comments on your instagram pictures or return texts on your smart phone.  I'm talking about real letters, hand-written and stamped and sometimes even with cleverly decorated envelopes, delivered to your mailbox.  I still love to send these notes almost as much as I love to be on the receiving end.  It has always been amazing to me to think of how a letter which I held in my hands could be in a far-away place by the end of the week at the cost of one small stamp in its corner.  I used to even lovingly decorate the borders of each envelope, hoping that just the sight of it in the receiver's mailbox would bring a smile.

I remember when the only way to communicate with someone quickly was by phone or a face-to-face visit.  There was no email, facebook, texting, tweeting, instagram or whatever new 'thing' I haven't heard of yet to communicate with a person without any real interaction.  I remember when the only way to share pictures with someone else was to carry them in your wallet or purse, or to mail them off to friends and family.  I remember when I used to get phone calls from people who were not trying to sell me anything.  I remember when a boy wanted to ask a girl out on a date and he had to either do it in person or suffer the agony of possibly having to speak with one of her parents when he called her home phone.  Ah, the good old days.

I know what some of you are thinking right now.  Blah, blah, blah, it's another GerbRant about technology. *yawn*  Big whoop. 

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that technology is a bad thing.  I just worry about what my kids are missing out on.  I worry about what I am missing out on, now that we are all so completely electronically connected.  What kind of communication skills are my kids lacking?  What is happening to their writing skills when things like LOL and abbreviated phrases like CUL8R are used often?  (I actually made that last thing up.  I'm not at all fluent in abbreviatedwords-ese.)  I love words.  I love the nuances of each person's penmanship.  But I most especially love my kids and I love my interactions with them which, regrettably, are not what they could be due to the T.V., computers and other electronic devices in our home.

The same goes with my extended family and friends.  The only way I communicate with most of them is on Facebook or by email.

This is what I see everywhere I go: people more connected to their electronic devices than the living, breathing people around them.  (Thanks for sharing the link with me, Sarah!)

Okay, here's what I'm getting at.  I control my own life.  I am the boss of me.  As such, I'm cutting waaaaay back.  I'm fasting from Facebook for a while and limiting my time on the internet.  Some days I may not even log on at all.  I'm going back to the way things were, to see if it's really as wonderful as I remember.  I'm going to sew more and read books more and sit and play trains and robots with my little boys more.  I'm going to write more stories and have more personal study and make time to practice my accordion.  I'm going to call people instead of emailing them. 

And here's the other thing - I want to spread some of my favorite kind of old-fashioned happiness in the form of real, actual, handwritten mail.  I want to send more letters, cards and postcards, just like I used to love doing.  I will put a colorful stamp in the corner of each and send them off, to bring smiles as people find something besides another bill in their mailboxes.  The world needs more happy mail!  More notes of encouragement and support!  And as of next Monday, that's going to start happening, from my mailbox to yours. 

This is where you come in.  Do you miss that excitement that comes with the anticipation of a happy note in your mailbox?  Have you never felt what I am describing?  Well, let's do something about it.  If you send me an address I will physically mail some hand-written happy and encouraging words and thoughts to you.

If you're interested, you can send your address to:

gerbdonna AT gmail DOT com

I can't wait to get back to basics around here.  And I can't wait to send some sunshine to your mailbox! 


Sarah said...

Oh, Gerb. You have such a great way of explaining what I am feeling! Plus, you are going to practice your accordian more? SCORE! I hope you'll find time to get on the internet a post a little Youtubage of that feat! :)

Gina said...

What? Am I really first in line for the mail?

13432 S. Dairy Lane
Draper, UT 84020

Can't wait!

信心之屋 said...

Gerb, the side bar of your kids is so lovely. I would never get tired of saying that you have the most wonderful family that everyone dreams about.

The spirit of unplugged is very good. I will keep tracking your blog. :)


Rory, Chocolate Hair/Vanilla Care said...

funny to think that all of this technology has allowed me to minister to people all over the world; without it i don't think i'd be able to serve NEARLY as many people. don't get me wrong, i do groan at my inbox 90% of the time, but then i remember that God has brought me here, with my computer skills, to reach out to others in ways that i otherwise never would have been able to do. :-)

Gerb said...

Rory- I know just what you mean. And I'm so thankful for the connections I've made thanks to technology and the things I can learn so much quicker than I could 20, even 10 years ago. I just think it's sad to see how some people become so attached to their technology. I am guilty of it myself, which is why I'm taking a bit of a break - but without cutting myself off entirely. And I agree - your blog is amazing and such a blessing to many!

Rachel said...

This is what we've been feeling in our house too. Need to get back to reality.

149 S. 2370 W.
Provo, UT 84601

A Lark said...

I've thought about the same things from time to time....with all the convenience of technology, we are losing some things that technology can't replace. I can't remember the last time I got a real letter in the mail. But those are the ones that last - you can take them out every once in awhile, and read that familiar handwriting...

I feel like sending you a letter! But then it will look like I only did it because of your post. (:

That reminds me.... I don't think I've checked my mailbox in a week. :P

Heather Rose-Chase said...

I'm totally in. I'm a mail junkie (both sending and receiving). Check your email! :)

Petersons Blog Spot said...

I was such an awesome pen pal back in the day. I loved sending and receiving letters. A postcard is coming your way (even though I already sent you a Christmas card)!

Linn said...

Love this so much.

When I deactivated my FB account back in August (or was it July?), I wondered if I would go back to it quickly. But after initial withdrawals, I actually found that I liked it. Don't get me wrong, I'm such a social person that it was hard to be away from all of the social fun, but to be honest, I used it as a distraction way too often.

When I would sit down at the computer to work on something that I truly needed to, I would often use FB, and other things similar, to distract myself when I wanted a break or to be honest, to distract myself from doing things non-computer related. It reduced my time on the computer A LOT to walk away for a while, not because I was on FB for long periods of time, but because I used it as an excuse to just quickly sit at the computer, instead of doing something I really knew I needed to.

I wish I could explain it better.

But ultimately, that initial decision led me to decide to shut down my account permanently. I need to find other, more meaningful ways to interact with people. (Which is why I LOVE this post.) And being regularly distracted from my family, at this incredibly important season in their lives, doesn't work for me. It is definitely not for everyone and I think it is awesome that others do FB, but I just knew it was right for me to completely step away.

Plus, FB privacy laws are not my favorite, to say the LEAST.

Good for you Gerb.

Longest comment ever finished.

Over and out.

Oh, wait, not quite. The shiner? Good grief, that is pretty fancy. May you never stop blogging. I would miss it WAY too much.

KS Photography said...

Dude. I've been feeling the same way for a long time. And I've been doing things about it. No cell for the past five years. Sent out almost 100 Christmas cards. Disconnecting from facebook, etc.

And I think I really like it.

Anaise said...

And I'm facing just the opposite--if I don't open up a facebook account I will continue to be out of the loop for the YW program in our ward--it is the only way they communicate with anyone. I constantly don't know what's going and as such am constantly frustrated. I've also promised my oldest she can open an account on her next birthday, so that means I have to have one so I can track what she's up to. It hurts my heart and makes me mad, but here I go, diving deep into this murky pond.

Mindy said...

I, too, miss receiving 'real' mail...( Well... besides bills, I

I'm as guilty as anyone of relying on technology to communicate more than I should and, while, sometimes it's necessary to get a more immediate response, often it's a lack of patience that prods me to text or email.

But then, I look back over most of the communication that I treasure most and it's the cards and letters I've received over the years.

Thanks for the reminder to disconnect in order to reconnect...

Rachel said...

:D Got a card in the mail yesterday. Made my day. I've been having a tough time lately. The 'sunshine' lifted my spirits.

Thank you. Thank you for being my friend.

Mom not Mum (Sandy) said...

I have loads and loads of letters from when I was a kid. I met a girl while I was camping with my grandparents and we wrote for years. When we moved I really tried to pass on the love of writing letters to my daughter and her friend. It hasn't worked so well but I will keep trying. Part of me wants to say I would write you and it would be just like when I was little - writing with that girl, her name was Tina, that I only knew from a distance. Hmmm I just might do it. But then I worry that I would just keep putting it off and then no letter would ever get sent.

Corine said...

I go through the same technology worries with my teens, Gerb (and - I have the same love for "snail mail." :) You can send some my way if you want to! :D PO. Box 1143 Hayden Idaho, 83835 Be sure to include returning address... I'll have some snail mail for you as well...
Corine :D

Emily Marlowe said...


I received your snail mail over the weekend... when I needed it most! Your letter touched my heart, and it was as if you knew me and what I needed to hear. Thank you for doing something that changed my life, and helped me to remember why I am here.