For a while now the USPS has been approaching Congress stating that they’re in a bad financial situation. At this rate, without help from Congress, they’ll have to close in 2012. Suggestions on how to save money have ranged from discontinuing mail delivery on Saturdays and closing down small-town postal offices throughout the country. The obvious thought is to increase the price of stamps, but the USPS is required to only increase prices with inflation and not above. Currently they can’t increase the prices until January, but even then that won’t be enough to save them.
So how does a graphic designer come into this? Well I’m disheartened. As graphic designers we work in a world of communication. Our bread and butter depends on making sure that our client can communicate effectively with their audience. It’s on a larger scale though. EVERYONE communicates in some form or function. Since our worlds have become bigger and spread further out, we’ve had to depend on others to carry our communication for us. The USPS has been doing that for us since 1775 and before that we had the Pony Express. It was so important to us to make sure that our communication traveled safely and quickly that we would hire people to travel across the country, during war, famine, and social unrest just so we could communicate. Now we’re just going to get rid of that?
At this point many of you are shaking your head saying, wait, wait. We have the internet. I can simply send you a quick email and communicate everything I need to say. I disagree. Emails are missing that personal touch. I can’t tell inflection in your voice or if you were nervous when you wrote your message to me. If I use a pen or pencil, you can tell so much from my handwriting: I might have been rushed and only wrote a few lines or you might see how I labored over each word because I had to tell you something so very important. Those personal touches matter, regardless of how fast we’re hurtling to a separated, no interaction world.
Perhaps I’m naive. Perhaps I’m romanticizing the notion of communication and it’s deliverance. I just feel that we’re not saving something that we one day might miss and by the time we realize it, well, there won’t be anything to do.
In my research to do this post, I actually visited the USPS website (yes, they actually have one! haha) and really enjoyed myself. There are some gorgeous stamps for purchase (see images below). So take a look and help out USPS and order a few. Then grab a pen and a piece of paper and write a letter or card to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. You’ll enjoy writing the note and they’ll enjoy receiving it in the mail. You’ll have to trust to the USPS to carry your words though, but don’t worry. They’ve been doing this for 236 years, why stop now?