When I started this blog a few weeks ago, I assumed that – as a niche subject – the majority of visitors would be avid Postcrossers like myself. While that’s largely true, I’ve been surprised by the number of people who have visited and said, “But what is Postcrossing?” So I’m going to write an explanation here, rather than having to direct you to the official Postcrossing website. After all, no one likes stolen traffic!
In 2004, a Portuguese student named Paulo Magalhães felt bothered with modern society’s casting aside of traditional postal services – he liked to send and receive real mail. To make amends he came up with the idea of Postcrossing, loosely based on the already popular Bookcrossing. Its premise is simple: “Send a postcard and receive a postcard back from a random person somewhere in the world!“
In practice, Postcrossing works on a neat system of logical balance. After registering and creating a profile, you request the address of another member to send a postcard to. You are also given a postcard ID [eg. US-123] to write on the postcard. You then mail a postcard to that member. When they receive it, they register it with the Postcrossing website using the postcard ID.
This makes you eligible to receive a postcard from a different, random member. It could come from anywhere in the world which is what makes Postcrossing so very exciting!
To begin with, you are allowed a maximum of five postcards travelling at any one time, but this increases the more you send.
The project has captured imaginations worldwide – there are more than 140,000 members and more than 3 MILLION postcards have been Postcrossed! There are many interests encapsulated in Postcrossing: stamps, postcards, foreign culture – or, like me, writing. Many people think of it as a kind of micro anthropology. The personal connection with people in other countries makes those countries seem more real and Postcrossing really does create friendship and understanding regardless of sex, age, race or social divisons of any kind.