Hi, friends. I just wanted to share a new project I'm working on with my very good friend, Nico.
Snail Mail is a monthly newsletter in which we recommend content that has had a lasting impact on us. By applying a filter of longevity to the pieces that we select, we hope to build an archive of material which has endured the pervasive force of online virality. To make the cut, content must be at least three months old.
This is our manifesto.
The Internet is overflowing with information: ideas, stories, photographs, news. All traveling the digital world from one person to the next, and on and on and on, and sometimes, like a boomerang, returning. Thanks to social platforms and personalised filters, the way we discover information and acquire knowledge has become a lot more sophisticated. We are able to unearth things meant for us in a lot less time than we used to. And that’s a wonderful thing.
Technology, though, can often create as many problems as it solves.
Almost without exception, our current filters prioritise the new over the old. “Virality,” the most prized attribute in the contemporary dissemination of information, only works in very short time frames. A piece of content goes viral and immediately becomes widely shared. Then, almost as immediately, it disappears again, to be replaced with the next piece of shareable material. Our culture is beginning to define itself solely by the amount of times something gets clicked.
As a result, the incredible content being shared online isn’t being properly absorbed. We treat reading, listening, and watching like eating a quick snack, not a proper sit down meal during which we savour every bite. Often, too, we are less motivated by acquiring knowledge and driven more by the impact the action of sharing will have on our digital personas. We are so hungry for the tantalising promise of social validation — of letting people know that yes, we know what’s going on — that we rush in our digestion of the material itself.
We read, watch, listen. Then, we tweet and — almost immediately after — we forget.
We lose the opportunity to truly reflect on what we experience, not only just after the moment we experience it, but also weeks, months, and years later. And when we relinquish the chance to contemplate, we leave behind the ability to make the sort of connections that inspire and drive forward true creativity.
So we’ve started to wonder: which bits of content are still relevant after the wave of virality has died down? What are the things that still make us think, laugh or weep weeks, months or years after we’ve come across them? And could “longevity” be a viable — and maybe even better — filter to discovery than virality?
Snail Mail is our experiment to answer these questions. Once a month, we will recommend the pieces which have stuck with us — for whatever reason — for at least three months, and often a lot longer. We hope that by doing this, we will become more mindful about what we’re taking in, noticing the lessons imbued within each and every little thing we consume.
Over time, our ambition is to build an ever-lasting archive of forgotten relics of the digital world.
We hope you join us, and that in our journey together, you are reminded of the things you’ve once loved but soon forgotten.