Why It’s Almost Impossible to Find a Postcard in China

Excerpt from this article (I still love sending and receiving postcards, but is this a dying art in the digital age?):

Kunshan is just west of Shanghai, in the heart of modernizing China. But finding a postcard, finding a stamp, getting that stamp to stick, finding a place to mail the postcard — even just getting anyone on this state-of-the-art campus to accept the idea of putting a letter in the mail — have proved a challenge, and not just because of my wobbly Chinese. In my travels to the tourist traps around Kunshan, I have seen exactly one Chinese person writing a postcard.

…For many Americans, sending a postcard from an exotic locale is still a mainstay of modern travel, if only to prove you actually went somewhere. It’s short and sweet, no heavy messaging required, the Twitter of a block-print age. And who doesn’t enjoy finding a handwritten missive among the supermarket fliers and other invasive species that swarm our mailboxes?

…The relative rarity of the handwritten postcard here is symptomatic of a pell-mell rush toward a digital and depersonalized future. It seems sad to see the broad strokes of Chinese culture and communication shrunk to a 3-by-5-inch screen, and delicate brush lettering now reduced to pecking with two thumbs.

Americans like to imagine that we are the most tech-savvy, if not tech-addled country on the planet. But we have nothing on China. Which means if you visit the Middle Kingdom, plan on sending a selfie from in front of Mao’s tomb to prove you were here. But forget about mailing Mom a postcard.

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