Mail bonding: is this the end?

2011-12-16 12:25

From social networks to the recession and going green, many factors have conspired to render the traditional Christmas card a relic, writes <strong>Mokgadi Seabi</strong>. 

When was the last time you received a Christmas card?

I’m not talking about an ecard you get on your email or a mass instant message circulated among a group of contacts on ­December 24.

I mean an actual physical card in an envelope ­delivered by a postman.

So far, the only card I have ­received was the usual ecard from a public relations company.

And when was the last time you sent anyone a holiday greeting card? I’m ashamed to say what used to be a cherished tradition of carefully choosing specific cards for certain friends and family members is no longer even part of my festive preparation. My family and I used to sit and decide what quirky ­message to write for neighbours and family. Alas, no more.

All of that seems to have ­dwindled away – especially as most of us stay in touch every day via ­social networks, emails and Skype.

My friends overseas know what I am up to at any given time, thanks to Facebook, so there’s little point in sending them a Christmas card with a summary of the year ­attached.

Technology has spoiled us into moving away from the “hassle” of having to buy or craft cards and send them by post.

All we have to do now is to simply press the “send” button.

But is it such a bad thing that physical greeting cards seem to be dying a slow death?

SA Greeting’s marketing executive, John Baden, concurs that there’s been a slump in the business of festive season greeting cards – if only a slight one.

“Our market research has shown that many people agree that text messages and emails are an ­impersonal way to send season’s greetings. The same message you get on your phone or email often gets passed along from or to 10 other people,” he says.

Baden believes people still buy cards mainly for those they consider special in their lives and want to add that personal touch.

So, maybe I might not be as ­important as I think I am ­because nary a card has yet to be ­exchanged between me and my loved ones.

I think I’ll just go ahead and assume they’re simply being environmentally conscious, what with the recent climate change ­conference held in
our back yard.

“There’s no comparing the ­anticipation between opening a card and opening an email or a text. In any case, most of our cards are made from sustainable forests and we encourage recycling so you can send cards without any guilt,” adds Baden.

Still, the Christmas card seems to be headed the same route as the pen pal – to the land of the forgotten.

There used to be a time when December brought with it the sweet anticipation of a ­postman bearing envelopes with greeting cards. These days, I can’t even tell you what kind of uniform postmen wear.

Everything has become electronic, including the pen pals we now ­refer to as Facebook friends and Twitter followers.

Though the art of writing and sending Christmas cards might be on the way out, I will be sending some – with personal messages – even if I don’t get any in return.

Perhaps my thoughtfulness will reverse a trend.

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