I’m a postcrosser. I’ve been doing this for 4 years and I’ve send and received over 1100 postcard all across the globe. The combined distance of all my sent postcards equals 10 laps around the world.
Postcrossing is amazing. It’s a small piece of happiness every time a postcard arrives somewhere. You open your mailbox and you’re happy, because someone from across the globe wrote a few nice lines. This makes every day a good day.
Unfortunately, I had to take a break for about 8 or 9 months, because I had to save up
money to repay my student loan. Postcrossing in itself is free, but you have to pay for the postcard and the stamp and if you’re sending a lot, that means you’re also investing a lot. SInce I’m 100% free of debt now, I restarted postcrossing again and was immediately confronted with all the things I love and the things I don’t appreciate as much.
But what is postcrossing? It’s simple: you send and recieve postcards to and from random people all over the world. This is not meant to help finding pen pals, even though a lot of postcrossers have become pen pals one way or another.
- you register yourself with your address
- you can write up to 5 cards to random people the website pulls from a pool of addresses. Every card has a unique ID.
- when requesting an address, you agree to write that person, no matter where the card may go to. You have to send a card to this person.
- The person on the receiving end registers the ID and has the opportunity to say thanks or write a few sentences virtually.
- Your address goes into the pool of addresses and another random person will write a card to you.
- rinse and repeat – the more cards you’ve sent, the more you’re allowed to send. I’m currently allowed to send 31 cards at a time.
Sounds awesome, right? The community is, in general, really lovely. It’s full of nice people
and most postcrossers will try to send a card that you will like. Religious and political topics are not welcome, it’s usually some light smalltalk. A few stentences: “Hello, my name is. I’m doing this and that for a job. I have dog and two children. I love hiking and postcrossing!” It’s nice to hear from people all over the world and sometimes, you will find out some people thousands of miles away from you have very similar interests. I think it’s important not only to look at our differences, but at what we have in common.
Postcrossing also helps looking at the world more individually. It not just The Germans or The Mexicans or The Russians. Because you’re “meeting” so many people, you see so many handwritten little pieces of lives, I think it helps understanding the world as a place full of individual people with individual dreams, hopes and lives.
That’s the great part of porstcorssing. Well, that and you receive a lot of awesome postcards. Like I said, many people try to find a card that might make you happy and I’ve received the most amazing cards so far. Yeah, I’ve received 150 cards from Russia alone, but guess what? Some of my favorite cards are from Russia and they have these amazing triangular stamps. Most beautiful stamps ever! Super cool.
Then, there’s the … not so light and shiny side of postcrossing. Since many people are very considerate, other’s become greedy. It’s very common to list your interests and your favorite postcard designs, however you are not allowed to demand certain things. You can ask for them nicely, but not demand them. This rule was established, because some people started requesting certain types of cards, and ONLY certain types of cards in a very rude manner. Ever since this rule has been in effect, everything’s a bit nicer again.
People have weird tastes and sometimes in order to make someone else happy, you might have to do something you wouldn’t do otherwise. I don’t like to send blank postcards, that means, putting the card in an envelope and send it without writing on it. There are a lot of postcard collectors who like their cards in this state. Talking about collectors, even though they might not necessarily tell you, but some of them are very upset when they receive a dublicate or anything that does not fit into their collection and that’s… upsetting. Sometimes you just don’t have the card they’re asking for. Don’t try to mind too much, because there are a lot of people who will welcome your card with great joy. I always feel
like collectors are the most difficult to deal with, because they take Postcrossing very seriously. There are some very nice collectors, too, though!
When registering a postcard, you can write the sender a few sentences. It’s considered good manners to say at least a simple “thank you”. You can do that, even if you don’t speak any English. Not writing anything, aka a blank register, is considered very rude and is usually interpreted as: “I hate the card you’ve sent me.” Therefore, before you decide to leave the register text box blank, think twice.
And at last, I don’t think it’s fair to point out postcrossers of lost postcards. We’re talking
about snail mail here. This means, postcards will get lost. I’ve even lost a card to the Netherlands. That’s a two and a half hour drive by car for me. It happens. There’s this habit a lot of postcrossers have of posting a list of postcard IDs belonging to lost postcards together with their country of destination and the username of the person who was supposed to receive the card. I think, this is one of the most rude things you can do.
Why are these people even doing this? The only reason I can think of is, because they’re assuming the person in question didn’t register the card on purpose and put the name of said person on their profile to show off the “bad” people who don’t register post cards. Dude, this happens to everyone! I’m assuming 99.9% of expired postcards (postcards expire after 360 days, this means, they can’t be registered anymore) just didn’t arrive. I found my name on such a list before. It hurt A LOT, because it wasn’t my fault. I always register all my cards, no matter what they look like, who sent them or where they’re from. I know I didn’t do it on purpose, but it felt like this person assumed I did. I felt very bad.
Even though, the good experiences heavily overweight the bad ones. Usually, you write a card to a nice profile and you get a nice card back from someone. That’s the standard, but we’re all humans and not all humans are equally open as others. Don’t get down, if something like this ever happens to you. Look forward to the next nice card that will be waiting in your mail box to brighten up your day. I once received a small white puzzle. The sender wrote her text on it and put it in an envelope to send it to me. Even customs
controlled it when it entered my country, because they apparently thought it was kind of weird. I’m usually against sending non-postcard items, but this was by far the coolest thing I ever received. By the way, there was a piece missing, I’m guessing it got lost when customs opened the envelope. However, that makes it even cooler, because it has a story to tell.
No matter what happens: just keep calm and continue postcrossing. It made my life so much brighter. A big thanks to all the postcrosser all over the world.