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Small Talk: I trusted; you didn’t deliver

I’m ashamed of myself for being lulled into trusting so completely again. More than once since we were first introduced, I have had promises of perfection dangled before me by this same heartless creature. Time after time, those expectations have been coldly shattered.

Now it has happened again. When will I learn to protect my heart? When will I remember that a computer is only a machine and that any of its progeny will also be capricious creatures rife with potential “bugs”?

I am now more entrenched than ever in my belief that the printed page will never die. Fie upon those 21st century kinds of people who have legitimized faxed signatures. Words on paper can never be replaced completely by these electronic gigolos, like my latest heartache, email. Just when you begin to lust after its wonderful abilities, it drops out of sight, leaving destruction in its wake.

I think this time hurt the worst because I was very slow to warm up to email. I am a letter writer. I am a lover of the look and feel of rich bond paper in pastel colors. I am thrilled by the sight of a clever use of graphics or a lovely, flowing handwritten message.

Once I gave email a try, though, I was hooked by the speed and convenience. It meant I didn’t have to print out my column, put it into an envelope, address it, stamp it and mail it to the newspaper. I could just write it and push a few buttons. It was deliciously easy. Even I know this is a guaranteed precursor to disaster, but I am easy pickings for anything that simplifies my life.

Recently, I happily emailed my column out into the ether, but it never landed. By the time my editors realized they weren’t receiving, it was too late to mail it and too late to replace it. A hard lesson, indeed, and one whose lesson I am still pondering. Dare I back things up with “snail mail” and a spearmint taste in my mouth, or do I email and live with the consequences?

I take some comfort from a fellow pen-and-paper lover who keeps the electronic take-over at bay by sending me letters that always contain clippings, cartoons, photos and other fun stuff. Her letters could never become email without scanners and other untrustworthy electronic equipment. Besides, receiving them electronically would never be as much fun as opening her grab bag of goodies, which I read and pass along to other friends.

Yes, email will still be my default, but it no longer owns my heart. I will keep my stationery and stamps close by, and until the day electronics can keep their promises and fend of cyber-attacks, we can only be friends.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer with one foot in the 18th century. Contact her at [email protected].

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