Can you imagine receiving an e-mail from a deceased loved one? That's the proposal being made by a Spanish Internet company, offering people "the chance to write one last e-mail, complete with video clip or photo attachments, and send it to loved ones, friends or even enemies after the person who wrote it is dead."
According to a report on cnn.com, the company which offers the service has thus far signed up more than 300 people.
Four different plans are offered, but basically when one signs up he's asked to pay between $11 and $22 per month until he dies. The message that will be sent upon his death can be updated and rewritten at his leisure.
"People find computers more intimate and private than letters and they feel freer to say things this way," says the company's founder in the CNN story.
I, for one, disagree. Letters are much more intimate. Reading someone's script is much more personal than telling someone your secrets in Times New Roman computer font.
Remember the good ol' days when you got letters in the mail from your grandmother instead of an e-mail saying "c u soon"? We used to share with each other in letters, rather than the two-sentence e-mails that we "share" now.
When Grandma wants to show off the photos of her grandbabies, does she invite her sewing club over to look at the downloads from her hard drive? It just doesn't seem the same as passing around a wallet full of pictures.
We communicate by cell phone and instant messaging, rather than actually having a conversation around the dinner table or mailing a birthday card in an envelope as opposed to sending an "e-card." An e-card is really just a way of admitting you're too lazy to go to the store, write a few words in a card, put a stamp on it and mail it. We spend more time trying to figure out ways to cut corners when we could have used that time to actually do something.
I suggest we go back to the basics. E-mail is useful and it should be used; however, there's nothing wrong with sitting down with a pad of stationery and a pen to write Grandma a letter. And certainly there's no sense in sending an e-mail from beyond the grave. Hopefully your loved ones will have plenty of letters after you're gone to remind them of how much you love them.
April Avison is the city editor of the Daily Herald. Her column appears on Mondays. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .