Why do millennials hate going to the Post Office?
Have you ever ordered something online, hated it, but kept it to avoid having to go to the Post Office?
You’re not alone – especially if you’re a millennial (that’s anyone between the ages of 23 and 38 in 2019, FYI).
Feeling unable to go to the Post Office is cited as a uniquely millennial symptom. Us semi-young people are blamed for killing of snail mail, while our collective burnout is evidenced by our ‘Post Office anxiety’.
Millennials are even accused of not understanding the very concept of stamps or how to address an envelope, an easy way to make our age group look incompetent, as evidence that we can do these things will be lacking when we just can’t be bothered.
Of course we know how to write a letter, how to address an envelope, where to put a stamp – or if we don’t, we’d Google it.
It’s not that we don’t know how that stops us from the specific errand of a Post Office trip, but that it feels like an insurmountable goal or a truly unbearable experience. For many of us, of all the simple tasks we have to complete, going to the Post Office is the one that we’d most like to avoid.
Cat, 27, hasn’t been to the Post Office in months, despite having quite a few things she needs to send off.
‘I have a pile of letters from my family who live far away, and the reason I haven’t replied is because I really, truly hate posting things,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.
‘I’ve written responses before then realised I don’t have any stamps, and just can’t muster the strength to go to the Post Office and buy new ones.
‘I’ve got a load of foreign currency I could really do with exchanging, too – enough to get me out of my overdraft. It’s been hanging around in my drawer for over a year.
‘I don’t know why I won’t go. I say it’s because I don’t have time or whatever, but there’s a Post Office five minutes from my house.
‘I just hate going. It’s the worst. The queues are always long and it’s always weirdly warm.
‘I feel like an idiot for not going, especially when I miss return dates and just have packages sitting there and making me feel bad. But I avoid the Post Office like the plague.’
Rebecca, also 27, has a similar affliction. She describes going to the Post Office as her most hated necessary task.
‘I’ve wasted about £500 on ASOS items I haven’t returned in the last decade,’ Rebecca tells us.
‘My husband has to return my clothes otherwise they live in a sad ASOS pile under the bed. As a non-millennial he feels that the Post Office is just part of life.’
Is hating the Post Office a uniquely millennial thing? I doubt it.
It’s hard to enjoy an errand that takes time, effort, and long queues, especially when you don’t have anything fun to show for it at the end (with cleaning you have a sparkling kitchen, cooking gives you food, and going through your inbox gives you the immense satisfaction of having no further unread emails).
But when you’ve grown up with far easier forms of communication available, having to rely on the Post Office does feel like a burden you’d rather avoid. Perhaps those outside the millennial bracket dislike the Post Office just as much as we do, but put up with it as they’ve experienced it being the only proper option. We haven’t, so we don’t.
Dr Catherine Huckle, a Clinical Psychologist from the University of Surrey, reckons a significant part of our reluctance to post things is that a trip to the Post Office makes us feel out of control.
‘Your visit is unpredictable,’ she explains. ‘Post Offices provide such a variety of services (from buying a stamp to having a lengthy application checked, approved and paid for) that we can never know for sure how long our wait will be.
‘We know that as humans we tend to avoid uncertain situations because originally (in an evolutionary sense) they may have contained danger.
‘Although danger is less likely nowadays an anxiety response can still be triggered, leading us to feel anxious, irritable and on edge, which are uncomfortable feelings that can put us off going.
‘Research shows that if you know how long you are likely to be queuing you are likely to manage the stress of it better (such as through screens giving wait times) but this is pretty difficult for post offices to provide because the services are so varied.’
So basically, we hate going to the Post Office because we don’t feel prepared for the reality. The exact time it’ll take and the ease with which you’ll mail your package are waiting for you behind those doors as a fun, anxiety-inducing surprise.
This isn’t unique to millennials, but this age group might find the frustrations of going to the Post Office hit them harder.
‘The internet provides such immediate gratification for so many of our needs that a chore that requires a precious commodity of time (and effort) is aversive,’ says Catherine.
‘It doesn’t fit with the way that we are living our lives nowadays and so going to the post office is a dissonant task.
‘Millennials and younger people will be more habituated to the quick tech world and so the task of going to the post office has the potential to feel even more dissonant that older age groups.’
When you’re already burned out and feeling overwhelmed, even the simplest task can feel impossible.
If that task doesn’t provide any immediate gratification, it’s no wonder we’ll avoid it – especially when we’ve grown accustomed to smoothing away all those annoying tasks that require time and effort.
‘Think about how easy it is to have things you actually like delivered to your door – you can get your favourite meal delivered in 30 minutes with a few clicks, or a shaving kit delivered every month so you don’t even have to think about it,’ says psychology blogger Marcus.
‘Things are instant, easy and people who have either embraced technology, or grown up with technology (like millennials) have learnt to love this
‘On the flipside of that are returns, you’re no longer dealing with something you like or want, you’re dealing with something, such as a piece
of clothing that you have actively rejected. So you’ve gone from ‘like and easy’, to ‘dislike and difficult’.
‘To return an item at the Post Office you have to pack the item, physically go there, possibly queue and return an item, of which the procedure might be unfamiliar to you, the return requires time, physical and cognitive effort, the only reward being the return of your money, which you’ve now managed to live without, so that isn’t a big motivating factor in most cases.’
So, how can you get rid of your Post Office dread and get that mail errand sorted?
Bad news: there’s nothing you can do to stop the inherent awfulness of the location. There may be queues. It may be too warm. You may have to deal with someone who talks to you like they despise your very existence.
What you can do is make your motivation a little more obvious to remind yourself that ticking off this item on your to-do list is a good thing.
Leave that package that needs to be returned right by your door, so you almost stumble over it every time you leave the house. Voila: you’ll have the benefit of a clear path through your flat once you bloody well stick a returns label on there.
Tell yourself that once the Post Office is done, you’ll treat yourself to a bubble tea/a browse around & Other Stories/whatever thing brings you joy.
You can also do your best to minimise the bits you find most irritating about this particular errand. Give yourself a proper window of time so unpredictable queues don’t make you feel rushed, print off your postage label beforehand, and save some articles to read on your phone while you wait.
Going to the Post Office sucks. Hating it is perfectly valid. But you can do it, promise.
Source: Read Full Article