Saturday, December 12, 2009

Got mail?

Quite possibly the answer is no, not much. I mean, bills and random ads, sure. But that's not real mail. Real mail is a letter or a card or a package that puts a smile on your face ... and although many of us, thanks to the internet, are now in regular contact with far more people around the world than we were, say, ten years ago, we still get real physical mail much more rarely than we did back then. I know that's true for me. And as much as I love teh intarwebs with all the multitudinous opportunities for experiences that follow, I also like mail. I love mail. :-) It's like I said, it puts a smile on my face. :-)

So, these things considered, I don't understand why I haven't gotten involved with the topic of today's post sooner. I'd heard about it several times, but for some reason I'd never gotten around to really looking into it until the beginning of October this year. It's been going on for over four years, though. And it really works. I can so vouch for that now. :-)

What is Postcrossing?

It's a website set up to let people send and receive postcards to and from randomly selected strangers. :-)

The site was set up by Paulo Magalhães in the summer of 2005, based on his opinion, or one might say feeling, that it's nice to get mail. :-) It's grown very quickly and there are now more than 130,000 users, and more than 3 million cards have been sent.

The system is very simple. First of all you must register as a user - this is quick and easy and completely free of charge. (The site is free to use, although you must of course buy your own postcards and pay for postage. You can make donations to the site if you want, but there is no requirement whatsoever to do so.) You get a profile - mine is here - where you can share some info about yourself and what kind of cards you would like to be sent. You then request an address to send a card to. This will be selected randomly - the list of recipient addresses changes constantly. The address may be anywhere in the world. You also get a unique ID code - eg, NO-26893 - which you must write clearly on the card. You then write a few words - whatever you want to write - on the postcard and send it off.

When it is received by the recipient, that person will use the ID code to register the card as received. Your address will then be added to the list of people due to receive a postcard, and someone else will be sent your address when they ask to send a card. This person, again, may be anywhere in the world, and they will not be the same person that you sent your card to.

At any given time you can have up to five cards travelling; as soon as one of these is registered as received, you will be allowed to send another. This number increases in increments with the number of cards you send. You will receive the same number of cards as you send out, from various countries all over the world. You send a card, it's received, you get a card ... And around and around we go ... :-)

But seriously, it really works. So far I've had 26 cards registered as received, and I've gotten 24 cards. The latter number will obviously usually be a little bit behind the former. I've got six cards on the road right now, travelling to Russia, Scotland, Canada, the US, China and Germany. The two cards I'm due to receive may come from almost literally anywhere on the planet. So far I've gotten cards from Finland, Iceland, Japan, Brazil, Tahiti, China and Germany ... among others. :-) I love it. :-) You never know what will arrive, or when. :-)

Apart from the official Postcrossing cards, there's also a lot of swapping going on. You can check a box on your profile to let other members know whether or not you're interested in that. A great way to get even more mail. :-D

The point of this post is to encourage all of you reading this to join Postcrossing and share in the fun. What's stopping you?? :-) You don't have to send five cards at once, you don't have to swap, you can make it as complicated or as simple as you want. But if your constantly empty mailbox is boring you to tears, I'm here to tell you that there is a solution. :-)

Two of my friends - KAS and C. - have already joined, and I've signed my mother up too. If you decide to join, dear reader, I'd love to hear about your experiences. It's a great hobby, and - I'll say it again - it really works. :-)

As usual, I've gotten a bit carried away with this whole thing, so I've set up a Postcrossing blog to chronicle my PX adventures. It's here if you want to take a look at cards I've sent and received, and other Postcrossing-related info.

Got mail? No? Then become a Postcrosser - you and your mailbox will never look back! :-)


Anonymous said...

This is a really fun hobby! I can vouch for everything Leisha says - it works, is very easy and you make what you want out of it. I walk to my mailbox with great expectations every day and I am often positively surprised :) So far I've sent 4 cards; to China, Brazil, Germany and the Czech Republic. In return I've so far gotten two cards; from Finland and the Netherlands. Big thanks to Leisha for telling me about this great idea! From C. :)

Paz said...

It is nice to get post that is not bills etc

Elin said...

I sort of like the idea, but I'm sceptical of leaving my address out there, as it pretty much tells exactly where I live...

James said...

I was going to take this opportunity to bemoan the lack of actual physical letters from you that have found their way through my letterbox lately ... but then I remembered that I never replied to the last one you sent.

So ... er ... what else can I whinge about? Your not replying to my last long miserable missive about how much I hate work? I think the explanation for the lack of response from you is hidden somewhere in that sentence, so maybe not.

I suppose what really nails the lid on to the coffin of my right to moan about your not writing to me is the fact that I haven't written to anyone myself for ... quite a while now.

And before you even think of suggesting it, I'm not going to join Postcrossing. Buggrit, millennium hand and shrimp. And indeed humbug.

But on a more positive note, please say hello to everyone who might want to hear it. Hope your mum enjoys Postcrossing (wonder what variety of bovine-related postcards there are in the world...).

KAS said...

Definitely works, and quite fun. There's the question of leaving one's address, but there are limits to how paranoid I feel like being. ;-)

AudiX78 said...

I got inspired and joined up :-) sending my first card today :-)