Please can we talk about the term “Snail Mail”? I don’t mean to be controversial but it’s just I don’t think it accurately describes letters through the post. It always feels derogatory too, or have I got that wrong, like somehow sending a letter is antiquated and hobby-ish, which I suppose it is to some extent, but personally I don’t think you can compare it to anything else. The obvious comparison is email, which is great and handy, and can be lovely to receive, but it truly isn’t the same as pen and paper and envelope and stamp. They are both communication, granted, but one is electronic, typed, probably never printed off, and lost for eternity, whereas a handwritten letter is physical, written, well-travelled, delivered by hand via van, train and plane (or combination of) and most likely treasured forever. I like snails (on the whole) but I don’t think it’s fair to label our wonderful and advanced postal services (I promise I don’t have shares) as being that slow. Is it?
Am I over-thinking this? Maybe it’s just a cutesy term and helps people to define what they are referring to but I’m not sure. Snails are not what I think of when I post my letter. In fact I’m always astounded at how fast my ramblings travel over actual real miles across the country or round the world. I think a membership pack I sent recently from here in Dorset got to America in less than five days. Maybe if it had gone by stagecoach and steamliner “snail mail” might’ve been OK, but 1) I’d still have been impressed, and 2) I still don’t think the term works. Maybe it’s just because it rhymes. I wonder who came up with the expression. I always imagine it was someone working in IT who had a superiority complex over their messaging invention in a “Oh no, writing a letter! That’s sooo outdated. So snail mail. You want superhighway fast digital communication mail instead” type way. Perhaps it wasn’t like that at all but it sort of makes me feel a bit affronted on behalf of Royal Mail. Maybe Royal Mail don’t mind at all.
Perhaps I need to get over myself and just embrace “the snail”. Lots of people love the idea and I promise I’m not out to upset anyone. It’s only an opinion to ponder. And I suppose snails are quite cute when you see them sliding along. They do have a place in the grand scheme of things after all. Seriously, what’s my problem?! Kids’ TV even anthropomorphised them in Gordon the Garden Gnome with Horis and Doris the visiting snails, and Les and Des, the resident slugs, but then perhaps I’m just annoyed they eat all my veggies and flowers so don’t want to associate them with my letter writing too. Perhaps I love to think of my letter whizzing along road and rail like in “This is the Night Mail” rather than going interminably slow like a mollusc. And please know that I am always open to persuasion and a good debate. It’s just to compare our beloved post as being as slow as a snail, I think definitely it isn’t.
Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox now…