Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Have You Received Many Holiday Cards This Year?

Not us, at least.

The home base of Random Glenings has seen a marked decline in cards. Even my mother hasn't sent us one yet.

Now, truth be told, we haven't sent many cards out ourselves this year, but a few should be going out today.

If past history is any guide, our cards will be received with a bland sigh by the recipient, who will carefully place it in a pile somewhere in their house. Then, shortly after Christmas, our card will be buried in some landfill, forgotten until some future archaeologist unearths it many centuries from now and wonders why civilization in the 21st century still engaged in this ancient ritual.

What's going on here?

It could very well be that the internet in general, and social media in particular is killing old-fashioned customs like Christmas cards.

There was a good article about this trend in Slate magazine (which, come to think of it, is strictly available on-line, i.e. no paper copies like the old days). Here's an excerpt from the article which lists five reasons the holiday card tradition may be kaput, with the full link below:

1) Frugality. Why waste money on a piece of folded paper that's going to be chucked in a couple of weeks? ...

2) The end of the address book. As Slate contributor Noreen Malone wrote, "Honestly, no one really keeps their friends' addresses the way they used to, because there are easier ways to contact them." Many of us don't have the faintest idea where anyone lives these days, so addressing an envelope means sending an e-mail to get the person's address, at which point you have already fulfilled one of the main purposes of the exercise (reaching out to someone you aren't otherwise in touch with)....

3) The triumph of the e-card. ...

4) Mom liberation. This year, women made up a majority of the work force for the first time. But according to the Greeting Card Association, we still buy an estimated 80 percent of all greeting cards. Maybe 2010 is the year we finally said, To hell with it, I'm not staying up late tonight to lick envelopes.

5) Facebook. Also known as the "I already know what you did last summer" theory. This is the one that most appeals to us. It checks the "Why now?" box. And when you look back at the Christmas card's evolution, it feels almost inevitable.

Did Facebook kill the Christmas card? - By Kate Julian - Slate Magazine

I had a meeting the other day with a valued client. Over the course of lunch he allowed how his company no longer sends traditional holiday cards to their clients. Instead, their IT department has come up with a (fairly bland) e-holiday card that expresses best wishes of the season to all of their clients (who of course are on a blast email list).

What's even better, enthused my client, is that his assistant can affix his automated signature to each of the company's e-cards, so essentially he doesn't have to do anything.

So asked him: Why did you even bother?

He just looked at me.

Why indeed.