The World On My Doorstep

An ever-expanding postcard blog

Postcrossing and Interpals – The online world of penpals

So, you may have noticed many of my postcards come from one of two sites:

www.interpals.net and www.postcrossing.com

It’s probably about time I posted a little something about these websites as, if you’re interested in my blog, you may well be interested in the potential of these sites as well – perhaps the most interesting and important fact about them both being that they are free.

Interpals

I have been a member of Interpals twice in the past five years. I initially used it to keep my French up to scratch, but then started using it to gain worldwide friendships. Some of these in the form of snail-mail, others in email/purely through the mail on the site. After forming stable friendships I asked each of my penpals if they could send me a postcard from their country, and it all started there!

Would I recommend Interpals? Absolutely. You have to be 13 to join, but personally I think you should really be 16 or at least very internet savvy. With Interpals be careful, I’m not going to give a lecture, I think everyone knows the deal with such sites, but if something doesn’t feel right, cut your losses and get out. Don’t hand your address out to just anyone, get to know them first! I mean, obviously for the stranger-danger factor, but also sometimes people can just be annoying, and once you’ve given out your address, you can feel obliged to maintain a ‘friendship’. Interpals for me, has come with the bonus of postcards, but snail-mail penpals and postcards were not the main cause of my joining the site, and if postcards are all you want rather than long-lasting friendships I think possible Postcrossing is the site for you!

Postcrossing

Well, Postcrossing. I absolutely love this site! Unlike Interpals, is not a social networking site. Instead, you write up a profile and request addresses. The site randomly generates you a ‘one-off’ penpal, who you write a postcard to. When it is received, they register it, through the use of a special code, and then someone, somewhere in the world will write one to you (and so on and so forth).

The main question I get asked is: “Is it safe?” Well, I’m pretty sure its as safe as it can get. You are not obliged to put anything about yourself in your profile if you don’t want to. The only thing necessary is your address. So, although I’m sure it has the potential to be ‘unsafe’, you’d need a pretty dedicated psychopath to be on the other end. Perhaps if I lived alone I’d be more nervous to take part in it, but the site is constantly vetted, and is also used by children, so personally I don’t think it could be any safer than it is now. For me, the thrill of getting postcards from someone, somewhere far away in the world, and knowing they’ve thought of me even for that split second of posting the card is nice. Its a shining example of a ‘global family’, and I just love being a part of it!


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