|Posted by Josh Griffiths on June 2, 2014 at 3:30 PM|
Why the hell am I posting a blog abou tpen pals? Because it’s my blog and I get to post whatever I want. I don’t tell you what condiments to get on your product placement free burger at generic unnamed fast food chain do I? Incidentally, I have no problem with you putting ketchup on that hotdog.
I remember back when I was a kid,specifically in 3rd grade. I was seven or eight years old at the time and my teacher introduced us to a certain writing program. We were supposed to write letters, and this was almost fifteen years ago so we had to write that crap by hand, and then send them off. Weeks later, most of us got a reply from those very same people. To me, getting a letter from someone from the other side of the world was magical.
To this day, I don’t remember who that person was, or where they lived. I had the thought in my head that it was one of those “write to prisoner and they reply programs that’s supposed to help both of you in life” programs until I realized that isn’t actually a thing. Now I’ve got it in my head that it was just some kid in Indiana or Iowa. Not quite as exciting, as it?
I don’t know why I’ve been thinking about this lately, but I want to rekindle that love of pen pals. Hand writing letters is completely obsolete in this day and age. I’ve had friends on the internet from as far away as Sweden, people I’ve talked to on a regular basis. Not to mention the potential safety concern of giving a total stranger your home address. And pray to whatever god you believe in (or don’t) that you don’t open a letter and suddenly find yourself shrouded in a white cloud of dust.
So why am I willing to risk becoming the poster boy for a full scale US military invasion of Turkmenistan? Is it just for the nostalgia of handwriting a letter and anxiously waiting for that red, white, and blue bordered envelope to show up in my mailbox? Or am I so desperate for a friend that I’m willing to possibly end up on an FBI watch list for saying “hello” to a pretty Pakistani girl I found on the internet?
Honestly, it’s a bit of both. Or maybe it’s there’s more to it than that. I don’t know.
The search for a new pen pal begins innocently enough by searching Google. There are plenty of sites catering to “spiritually” old farts like myself looking for some excitement in revealing our every personal detail to a stranger. But they’re all email based, and I realize the extreme stupidity in wanting to actually wanting to trade paper correspondence.
I shift my thinking, and allow myself to speak semi-anonymously to someone online. I’m a soon to be 22 year old man. I know a scam when I see one, and I know I trap when I see one grumble grumble.
I go straight to the first site listed on Google, PenPalWorld. Then I leave just as quickly, as its not free. I go to the next site, InterPals. I start doing a search for people and immediately get creeped out that the site lets me look up 16 year old girls from across the world, and leave based on sheer principle.
Third on the list is Wikipedia, and I don’t think I’m going to make any friends there. In fact, I’ve gotten into arguments with people there about certain articles. You know you’re a nerd when you start arguing about the accuracy of an article based on Joseph Warren, and not one of those “cool” nerds either.
Finally, at number four, PenpalsNow! gives me hope, they even included the exclamation mark so you know they’re serious. I see they have an age group for 13 year olds and throw my hands up in disgust. That’s okay I guess… right? Kids would want pen pals, right? Right?
The first thing I did was to search for women aged 19-22, putting myself someone between the “kids” that search for 13 year olds to write for, and a desperate old man looking for a mail order bride.
What am I looking for? I don’t know. I want someone outside the United States, at least. No offense my fellow countrymen, it’s just that I want some culture, some excitement. There’s nothing exciting about Wyoming or Maine. Why a woman? Is this some kind of Freudian thing? This isn’t about finding a girlfriend, this is about connecting with people, and I’ve always had an easier time connect with women than men.
Can two strangers from different countries come together over the internet and befriend one another? Yes, that is what this little experiment of mine will be about.
Through much searching, I found nothing. Not because I didn’t find anyone I didn’t like, because I didn’t know what to say. I am completely incapable of making the first move. So for weeks, this little experiment of mine went on the shelf with so many other projects and ideas.
But a few days ago, while browsing my empty Okcupid profile, I realized that I got a message. A message, for me? And it’s not one of those “thanks for joining lol” or “we’re having a hangout 3000 miles away from you come join” kinda things. It’s an actual message from an actual human being, saying hi.
I don’t want a relationship, I’ve worked that out. But I do want an online/pen pal friend. That’s the whole point of this, isn’t it? Will we become “besties”? Will we start writing letters? Will Batman stop the Joker in time for blowing up a daycare center? Find out next time, on my boring blog!
Thanks for listening.