'Going postal' in the age of the Internet

I check my post once a month. The post box, like for most people, is at the front of my house. But my driveway and daily entry/exit is at the rear of the house. Consequently, going to the letter box is a planned event. I know this makes me sound a bit lazy but let me present an argument in my defence.

Refer to this crude but effective effort vs reward chart - I've added a couple of points for context. Monday's are definitely high effort/low reward. Don't get me wrong, I love my job. But at the end of every Monday I always feel like I've been very busy and yet not actually removed anything from my To Do list. Typically, its a planning day. And then there's my most favourite thing ever, eating steak. The array of cuts, sizes, sauces. A veritable playground for the senses (Hey there vegetarians - just think of something else nice). But I digress...

Collecting the post occupies approximately 2 minutes of my time. While this is not very long in comparison to, say, my 90 minute journey to London, or, the torture of watching test match cricket, I remind you of the effort/reward chart. +90% of my post goes straight in the recycling bin. ~5% is not hugely important but is read and then shredded. Leaving the final ~5%, bills: Council Tax, Water Supply, Electricity,…..  Why would anyone like the postal service? My postman Tony is a pleasant chap but maybe my positive thoughts toward him could be best described as Stockholm Syndrome?

Bills: a process of informing the general public they have less money than they first thought. But all those listed above, typically utilities, can be, as I have done, set up as direct debits. So, why the post? The bill opening anxiety is not necessary! Begging the question, what is left for the post (all Hallmark days are being omitted intentionally - bah humbug and all that)?

I don't want to receive post, EVER! Its not necessary. But for such a grand change to happen there are a couple of other steps in the way. The first being my 92 year old grandfather. He doesn't have an email address and has never been on the internet. He's an admirable and well respected man but I doubt he has ever sat in front of a keyboard and he prefers to communicate via written letter than via telephone. The second being the need for a government-run email directory as a primary contact point for all - possibly linked to one's National Insurance ID or drivers license record. And lastly, but certainly not least, there's the need for always-on and always-secure access to the Internet.

Matt Warman, Consumer Technology Editor at The Telegraph discusses a small step forward in making this a reality in, "Web access could be a human right". I do hope this becomes a reality while I'm still kickin'. The sad truth is that moving beyond the postal service can only work when it works for everyone. To help get there, in the mean time, surely the utility providers and government departments could provide an opt-out service. I would happily sign up for online communication, owning the responsibility to check my emails regularly. Wouldn't you?

Published Apr 27, 2013
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