Take it SLOWLY

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Reviving pen pal experience

By Sarah Ryou

When was the last time you bought stamps or wrote a pen pal letter? When did you last write a letter to a friend? Most people stay in touch or make new friends by posting messages on social media platforms instead of writing letters nowadays. SLOWLY is a mobile app that brings back the experience of pen palling.

In SLOWLY, you can connect with strangers around the world by writing and sending them letters sealed with a stamp of your choice. As its name suggests, SLOWLY encourages users to slow down and wait. And the delivery time varies with the distance between a sender and a recipient.

Kevin Wong Ho-yin, founder of SLOWLY

Kevin Wong Ho-yin, founder of SLOWLY, says the app was inspired by his experience of writing to pen pals when he was young. He has forgotten what he wrote in letters, but he still recalls the excitement of waiting for a reply. Therefore, he wishes to reintroduce the pen pal experience to the young generation.

“In a very fast-paced city like Hong Kong, we lack patience to wait,” says Wong, who finds the beauty in waiting. SLOWLY encourages users to compose long and meaningful messages. He notices that messages as long as 10,000 words are sent every now and then.

A main feature of SLOWLY is that users can stay anonymous. A user only needs to create a nickname and an avatar to start matching with pen pals who share common interests. The anonymity, Wong believes, frees users from privacy concerns and allows them to express themselves freely.

The user interface in SLOWLY (Image courtesy of Kevin Wong Ho-yin)

Though he had difficult times developing the app, Wong says positive feedback from users brings him pleasure and satisfaction. One user who suffers from depression finds emotional relief and gains motivation from his pen friend by using SLOWLY. The duo thanked Wong for creating the app and the unique experience.

Until now, SLOWLY already has over one million users and the community is still growing. Wong believes the charm of the app is that everyone can become friends: “There are users as young as 16 and as old as 60, and they have actually become friends by common interests.” He is now developing a desktop version of the app.

Want to slow down your pace, start some meaningful conversations, and experience the pleasure of sending and receiving letters? Join SLOWLY today and download it for free from Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Users can choose from a variety of stamps to go with their letter
(Image courtesy of Kevin Wong Ho-yin)

Edited by Valerie Wan