The world has gotten MUCH smaller as technology has allowed us to reach out and instantly “touch” each other across continents.
Blogging is an excellent example of this small world phenomenon. Comments arrive from all over the globe, and blogging-friendships arise.
However, this age of instant around-the-world communication is relatively new. Younger folks of today don’t really give it a second thought, while I still look at each comment that comes in from anywhere beyond my own locale as a
small huge wonder.
When I was 14, the World’s Fair was held in Flushing, New York. Admission was $2. It was an easy bus ride for me, and I was able to visit the Fair several times.
Much of that Fair was carted off by Disney and pieces still exist at the Disneyland Parks. (In Florida the Carousel of Progress always brings back memories of 1964 …even though, of course, it has been greatly updated, now.)
But beyond those technological wonders was an unassuming little building that was working miracles…. the Parker Pen Pavilion.
At the Parker Pen Pavilion, you could get matched with a pen-pal from anywhere in the world. This was extraordinary. To “meet” another teen from another country. Oh, my.
The thrill of getting to know someone from so far away! Of course, language was a large barrier. There was no google-translate in those days, so this limited the options. My match was with a young girl in India, who, to my delight, was able to correspond with me in English. We would write on this thinner-than-thin blue paper that folded up into it’s own envelope and would be sent by “air mail” (how exotic!). We wrote regularly for years, but sadly this stopped when she married.
I did a bit of google searching and I am not alone in my fond memories of experiencing the treasure of an international pen-pal through the magic of the Parker Pen Pavilion at the World’s Fair. Thousands of people were matched with penpals, and some friendships have survived all these years.
Today we can reach someone around the world in seconds, share entire libraries of photos, and have live (free) face-to-face conversations across our magical devices. That thin blue paper is a distant antique memory.
So, answering my own question, I guess the answer would be yes, PenPals are obsolete.
But this (today) is better, I think. The more we share, the more we know how much we are all alike… and it doesn’t matter where we live.
And that’s a good thing to know.