Ben Borgers


May 15, 2022

I read an idea a year ago that I still think of fairly often. After graduating college, this guy created a Listserv for his college friends. (I am too young to know what Listserv is, but it seems like it was software for creating email lists for groups.)

He set it up to email them all every two weeks, and everybody would write back with an update of how they were doing. That way, they kept in touch with how each others’ lives were going for years after graduating and moving apart.

I really like the idea. In general, I really like the idea of using writing as a way of keeping in touch with people. There’s something really cool about dropping into someone’s world through their writing. You hear things that probably wouldn’t have come up in conversation.

If you scroll back to the posts on my blog from January, you’ll find posts that are more like this — updates about my life and how I’m doing. I’ve since switched the format (stolen from Ian) to be more widely appealing and long-lasting, but I do kind of miss the life-update format.

But that’s just me. The Listserv would be a way to make my friends participate as well.

However, there’s two obstacles to this charming idea of a friend email list:

  1. I think that people are really drawn to the idea of a solid friend “group,” where everybody’s friends with everybody and it’s a closed circle. Those are the people on the email list. But in practice, the world is messy: not everybody knows everybody, and groups shift over time.
  2. It’s probably quite difficult to get people to actually write back. It starts strong, and then people get busy and start missing a couple here and there. It’s a nice idea, but probably fades away over time, as many things do.

But still, the idea has a lot of appeal. Maybe this sort of thing already exists in the world: in the form of people writing blog posts, or daily update posts on instagram. I really like those sorts of things.