Geeks love to talk. At least, we love to talk about what we love, and we definitely love to talk to other geeks about what we love. In today’s world of instant messaging, social media, video chats, etc., social interaction, connection, community even, can be obtained with the press of a button, the stroke of a key, the flip of a switch.
But while electronic communication might well be the future, there’s still something to be said about a good old fashioned letter. At least, that’s the idea behind the International Geek Girls Pen Pal Club.
“That’s one of the benefits of the club, you’re sort of abstaining from that instant gratification culture,” says Leslie “Stewie” Hunsinger, who co-founded the IGGPPC alongside Emily Farquharson-Hall. “You have to develop a sense of patience, and sort of train yourself in a new way to try to learn about somebody, and take the time to write them a letter instead of a quick e-mail — hand cramps are a side-effect. So it really is a nice little vacation from this busybody world we live in.”
Stewie, who sat down with me for an interview last week, co-founded the IGGPPC nearly three years ago when she and a friend across the pond realized that their hand written letters and packages offered something that e-mail and IM could not: a personal, real person, touch.
“We were just like, this would be really cool if other people could do this kind of thing,” said Stewie. “You know, just find someone in another country that they connect with in the same way that we connect, that are into the same kind of geeky stuff that we’re into.”
And so the IGGPPC was born. It took off quickly, gathering thousands of sign-ups in the first few days, and has only grown from there. They’ve added more pairings, more activities (movie watch-alongs, a book club, etc.), and even started a Summer Camp, expanding their simple letter swapping website into an award-nominated community.
And no, you don’t have to be a girl to sign up.