Sunday, January 6, 2008

Impersonal Greetings

With a new year inevitably come New Year's Greetings.

Nobody reading a blog remembers this, but once upon a time if you got a holiday greeting card (the kind made of dead trees), and the person hadn't scribbled some kind of personal message, you felt a tad insulted.

At least that was the case in the States, when I lived there. For almost two decades, I've lived in a culture where the only people who send holiday cards are salespeople. So, for years and years, I have not sent greeting cards. I feel guilty about the friends I didn't keep in touch with, but on the upside, I've saved a few trees.

Over the past few years, greeting cards come, by the dozen, through e-mail. There's something incredibly impersonal about not even getting your card with your name at the top of it. Despite being in charge of the design of the company greeting cards, I don't make a habit of sending cards out, but to the actual humans who send me cards, I tend to reply.

This year's innovation is cards through social networking. I get season's greetings through Facebook and Plaxo. Now these greeting cards are, in some ways, even less work and less personal than the e-mail greeting card. OTOH, they do have your name and picture on them, and they did come from your (semi-)closed network of declared "friends".

It is with great embarrassment that I admit to enjoying receipt of these impersonal social-network-generated greetings. I get that instant pleasure of believing that for a split second, a friend of mine was thinking of me. And they were, because they had to look at my picture for a second (Unless they chose "Select All", but none of my friends are dorks, so I am pretending that option doesn't exist.)

I still haven't been able to bring myself to return the greetings, because it seems too impersonal. But social networking has allowed me to send birthday cards at the appropriate dates, something I have never been capable of tracking previously. Despite the impersonal nature of an e-greeting, it's an upgrade from the mass-holiday-greeting-card. I hope you understand.

I still get the holiday greeting cards of the physical kind, always from my ex-roommates from college. They don't have anything personal scribbled at the bottom, but they always have a picture of their kids. I hang those up in the kitchen, where I can see them, for the whole year, until the next one comes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Rebecca,
Sending a greeting card to all your contaccs is an easy job these days. But what is the meaning of such a card? Is the 1 sec it takes to add your "contact" to the mailing list is enough? In most of the time, even in some business connections, I think the answear is "NO"!,
All the Best,