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What Is Snail Mail?

Before email, fax, and SMS, the only way people could communicate through long distances was to send a mail through the postal service.

Sending a letter through postal service can sometimes take two or three days, or even up to a ten days if it is sent overseas. Compared to the instantaneous delivery of email and SMS, and mere-seconds delay of faxes, these 10 days certainly feel like “forever.”

Think, then, of how long the first postal systems took to deliver mail—back in 1700 BC Persia and China. At that time, there were no roads. Messengers had to bring messages by riding horses from one town to another, sometimes traversing through thick forests or high mountains. Later on, mail would be sent through boat, but a letter would sometimes take months before it would reach its intended recipient—if, indeed, it reached him or her at all.

Given that, today’s “snail mail” is actually quite fast and infinitely more reliable. People have a choice between using private or public postal services, and can choose from options like “regular” or “priority” mail. They can pay for the service by pasting a certain amount of stamps, which is computed according to the weight of the package and the distance which it is mailed.

Traditionally, snail mail carried everything from letters, cards, photos, and gift items. Today, however, most “snail mail” consists of legal documents that need to be signed or goods shipped by online retailers. However, there are some who still feel a nostalgia for snail mail, and celebrate the “personal” touch of a handwritten letter that can never be fully replicated by an email.

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