Today a relative of mine sent me an e-Christmas card. While I appreciate the thought (thank you — you know who you are, if you’re reading), e-cards seem like a cheap and lazy substitute the the real thing: an old fashioned, environmentally-unfriendly, paper or cardboard actual pretty card in an envelope with an actual written greeting inside.
When they were a new thing back in the ’90s, e-cards seemed uber-cool and cutting edge. Now, not so much. Today, e-cards are about as cutting edge as AOL or Netscape Navigator (remember those?)
When I receive an e-card (unless it’s from a disabled or ill person who can’t get to the store to buy a card or the post office to mail it), this is what it tells me about you:
It tells me you don’t think enough of me to take the time to purchase an actual card or take the time to mail it at the post office. It also tells me you are either too lazy or cheap to make the effort to drive to the store or post office or spend the $2.00 or $3.00 (or a lot less than that, if they are from a box) to buy a card or the 49 cents to mail the card. But thanks for at least remembering I exist.
Okay, e-cards do save trees. So I guess they’re better for the environment and if you’re an tree-hugging environmentalist, an e-card makes sense. That’s the only advantage I can see to them (besides not having to spend a dime or leave your house).
Cards aren’t a big deal, of course. They aren’t the same as gifts. We send cards to people we aren’t really that close to — casual friends, distant relatives, acquaintances, business associates, co-workers, or neighbors we don’t talk to that much. But a card is still nice to get — they are pretty, tangible things that you can actually hold in your hand. Many people use them as holiday decorations — strung from a garland or propped on a table with other cards, or collected in a pretty basket. It’s always nice to look inside your mailbox and see a red or green envelope sitting there, and then slowly open it to pull out a pretty paper greeting card, perhaps even with a handwritten note from the sender.
E-cards don’t provide that experience. They’re not much fun to “open,” you can’t display them, and you are also usually required to send a “thank you” response card to let the other person know you received it. They are basically virtual cards — like virtual reality, they aren’t the real thing. They are a fascimile of a real card.
When e-cards were new, I used to send them, because, you know, novelty (and well, laziness). But within a year or two the newness wore off and I was back to snail-mailing old fashioned paper cards, because they are just so much nicer. I wish people who sent e-cards would realize that most people would appreciate an actual paper card in an envelope to an e-card. Maybe I’m just being overly petty, since really, it’s the thought that counts anyway.
Here’s a pie chart that proves most people prefer real cards to e-cards.