Christmas card etiquette in a digital age
You had to select just the right card to portray the right message: not too wintry if you’re southern hemisphere, not to secular if you’re religious (or vice versa), and always consider buying from a charity – it showed you cared. Then, you had to spend a long time making your list of recipients. Was there anybody to add? Anyone to remove? And, of course, you then had to hand write each one of them, and send them individually.
It was costly: in money, time, effort.
It was personalised.
It meant something.
That was then.
But it’s different now. It’s been happening for a while, but I only noticed this past week how many people have now gone digital with their Christmas cards.
That’s not a problem – it makes sense. But I don’t think we’ve got the etiquette quite right. Too many of the email “cards” I’ve received as Christmas greetings this year have been sent out as mass mailers. People haven’t even taken the time to customise the greeting for me, preferring to just hit “send to all”. I recognise that some have taken some time and effort to craft. And I have enjoyed some of them as they’ve helped me catch up on the lives of some of my friends. That’s been useful for friends who still haven’t started chronicling their lives on Facebook.
But mostly, I have just deleted the emails after a very cursory reading. They really haven’t made a connection.
I don’t think I am turning into a grumpy old man who yearns for the “good old days” before all of this “dehumanising technology” took over. I firmly believe that, correctly used, technology can help us to connect more, and connect better, than we ever have. But sending out mass mailer “Dear friend
In my view, we either have to downgrade what we think Christmas cards are (maybe they were never heartfelt before, and maybe we weren’t as friendly with all those people anyway). Or we need to take the time and effort and energy we used to take to make a personal connection with people who mean something to us. I did not send Christmas greetings this year, and I am sorry I didn’t. It feels like an opportunity to connect has been lost. But sending out a generic greeting is equally a lost connection opportunity.
I don’t want to downgrade my view of Christmas cards. But I want us to upgrade our use of technology to make personal connections at this time of year.
Let’s use technology to enable a better humanity, rather than detract from it.
What do you think?