Friday, February 6, 2009

Pen Pal is now the Key Pal

For those of you who had forgotten, - Pen pals (or penpals or pen friends) are people who regularly write to each other, particularly via postal mail. A penpal relationship is often used to practice reading and writing in a foreign language, to improve literacy, to learn more about other countries and life-styles, and to reduce loneliness. As with any friendships in life, some people remain penpals for only a short time, while others continue to exchange letters and presents life-long. Some penpals eventually arrange to meet face to face. Some pen pals even get married.

Where is the Pen friend? Or has this friend changed his avatar in the times of the internet, blackberry and social networking. The Pen is now the Key or the Button  and I think it’s better to call this as a Net friend now or a SMS friend. The nature of making friends have changed drastically in the last 10 years since the internet intervention. Now it’s changing even more with blogging. One can choose friends based on the blog or areas of interest  (technology blog, business blogs, recipe blogs, religion, spirituality, health & wellness blogs) etc. Social Networking is changing the demographics of making friends, breaking caste, race, religion & geographical barriers. I saw many 60 year olds and above on orkut. I tell you friends, they are catching up fast. I must not forget to mention Big Bs blog. It really makes an interesting reading. Recently my mother in law surprised me saying that she reads  her favourite actors blog often. My father in law just cannot stop browsing on the internet. He has given rest to the newspapers and the boring, entertaining news channels.

As a child, mom used to take me to Bhatt uncles home. Bhatt uncle had his own business and he enjoyed life to the fullest traveling to different places, pilgrimage, making friends, having a cup of coffee in the nearby Irani restaurant in the evenings,  and opening up his heart and write to his pen friends in different parts of the world. I used to be so fascinated with so many letters written in different kinds of paper, colorful cartoons and family pictures in them. At times for Christmas and New year there used to be loads of gifts and parcels which would come to their home and every time we visited Bhatt uncle would show all the goodies to us.

 Times have changed, now the air mail (post)  has become the Email. The telegram has been replaced by the SMS and the speed post with the scrapbook feature on orkut.  Parcels have all moved to the courier companies,  So has the pen friend to the internet. Now we have so many groups and chat rooms where you have so many net savvy people chatting with each other. But most of them lack a committed friendship. They are just there to talk to someone for a while, chat for a while and the move on. Exceptions are always there ;.)

 Bhatt uncle doesn’t receive any letters from his pen friends any more. Probably his pen friends are waiting for this 80 year old man to switch to the net and get more tech savvy. This pen friend would have made lot of difference to his retired life but with the changing social trends of communication through net and email has made him quite lonely. I remember in my 7th grade in school ,  during the summer vacation teacher had asked us to make a pen friend and share our experiences. We would wonder from where we could get an address to someone unknown and once you receive a response from that friend, you are really excited and thrilled and just want to write back more. We used to check the Gokulams, cartoon books, magazines to find some details to mail a unknown friend and at times any address that we find interesting in the newspaper.

 So any of you who have had a pen friend in the past and would like to share your experience. Do post your comments. By the way at times  writing also helps more than keyboarding. We are used to so much of keyboards now that we have forgotten how to hold a pen. Most of us hold the pen only for signatures. I am going to get back to writing one or two paragraphs every evening. For many of us now The Pen Friend is now the Key Friend. We talk to so many online and come across some one new in the net almost everyday. 

1 comment:

  1. Good one. These times there is no pen-pals, all are e-pals, or i-pals I guess. The touch-time with the friends/relatives have gone, or changed I guess. Anyways, good post. Keep it up