Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Dear Fancypants: Facebook and Penpalling

Welcome to Dear Fancypants, an advice column on penpals and other philatelic things. To submit a question, contact

Dear Fancypants,

I have recently restarted penpalling after a long hiatus, but I'm struggling to establish good reliable penpals.

At the start of this year I joined a couple of groups for penpals-- mostly on Facebook, because all the other sites attracted a strange crowd that either wanted money or pictures-- but I digress.

I found a particularly active group on Facebook (not LEP), but there are several things that bother me and I don't know if they should.  The moderators engage in a lot of drama and there's a lot of name calling and deleting of posts. I feel that it takes away from the experience of penpals. This censorship also results in being blocked if anything is said.

I have been unsuccessful in finding penpals in this group; I have sent dozens of intro letters and only gotten one or two back. The only reason I stay in this group is because at least I can participate in swaps and things like that.

I don't feel that my letters are boring or offensive but somehow I just haven't found good matches. I am here with adorable stationery and a million ideas in my head but no one to send them to.

I hear all these success stories of penpals but I'm beginning to think they are a fictional world!

Do you have any tips/ideas? Should I continue with this Facebook group?

Thank you.

Unmatched Penpal :)


Dear Unmatched Penpal,

Your time is too precious.

There are so many amazing things to be done and experienced in this world, and I doubt that dealing with a bunch of probably shitty and unproductive drama on a Facebook group is on your bucket list.

I'm nonmonogamous and polyamorous and don't believe that there is One Magic Partner that can fulfill my every single need. What the hell does this have to do with your question? Well, it sounds like this Facebook group fulfills a certain need, but you want it to fulfill all your mail-related needs and it's just not going to do that. You say that you stay in this Facebook group because at least you can participate in swaps. If those swaps are fulfilling for you and there are parts of the group that enrich your life, take those things and leave the rest.

Of course, when a large number of diverse people congregate in one space, there's bound to be misunderstanding and 'drama' sometimes. Not everything can be goodness and light 100% of the time. This is why Facebook notifications can be turned off and your newsfeed curated. Maybe you only want to check in to this group when you are in the mood for joining a swap and don't need to see the group's posts on your newsfeed alongside pictures from your grandma's 90th birthday. Tailor your Facebook experience to fit the kind of relationship you want with this group. Set your expectations and boundaries and relate with this group accordingly.

If you really don't want or need this unnecessary negative energy in your life, walk away. There are other groups and places to find penpals. You can start with this little post I wrote on where to find penpals. Perhaps you'll find a group that better meshes with what you're looking for, or better matches penpals for you, or gives you more of an opportunity to pair up with someone who is definitely looking to write and isn't already overwhelmed with correspondents.

And remember: penpalling is building a relationship through paper and pen. I often find my letter writing relationships are better served by getting the hell off Facebook.

I'll be following up later in the month with a separate post on how to better your success rate with finding penpal matches, and I'll update this post with that link. In the meantime...

Be Brave and Be Honest.

Captain Fancypants

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