It may seem amazing that in this day and age of the Internet, people still send greeting cards. More than 2 billion Christmas cards in the U.S. alone, billions of more New Year cards, Easter cards, Valentine Day cards and so on. Studies like this one show that up to 90% of people still prefer to get an old fashion greeting card vs an email card. Still, you may wonder why. After all, an email card is still a “card,” just delivered electronically instead of snail mail. Below are five reasons I’ve come across while doing the research..
1) It’s more personal. Getting a personal letter always feels more personal than something you receive over the Internet. Part of this is psychological, part may be kinesthetic–you get to feel the card. I compare this to reading a real book vs reading something online. I don’t mind getting my news and daily information online (I read 30 to 40 news feeds a day) but if I want to read something deeper, something that takes time and thought, I’ll read a real book. There’s something gratifying about opening a letter and sitting down and reading it away from the office, computer and your work life.
2) It’s more emotional: I still have boxes of cards and letters my dad sent to his mom, brothers, and my mother from the 1950s and early 60s. He’s long gone but the cards and letters remain. I enjoy seeing how he expressed himself, and his style of writing. He wasn’t a Hemingway–not even college educated–but he got his point across in his own way, and often emotionally. When he was traveling the world on oil tankers, he’d write back about how he “missed home.”
3) It has more impact: This is particularly true with personal photo cards where you can post your family, friends or even dog’s picture. Part of the problem with e-cards is that on one level, they just represent another email in the (overloaded) email box. Easy to scan, efficient, yes. But also easy to gloss over or delete. A real card can stay up on the fireplace mantle or bedroom dressers for days or weeks.
4) It’s more authentic: People pick cards that reflect their personality, taste and values. You can do this with e-cards, of course, but somehow it just doesn’t come across as authentically. Just going to the trouble of picking out a card and writing a few lines says the sender cares. This is even more true of people who go to the trouble of writing a longer letter or a sort of family newsletter, outlining family highlights of the year in the case of New Year cards.
5) It’s NOT about the Internet or computers. I’ve been watching and been involved in the growth of computers and the Internet since the 1980s. It’s a phenomenal development that has changed the way we work, live and play. Yet today we may be seeing some of a backlash, as people seek out more real experiences. Virtual worlds, social media sites, blogs and websites can’t replace real human connections and relationships. The greeting card represents a real connection between people that transcends the digital world.
One more related note: I do believe the need for human connection is fueling the social media movement, and explosive growth of sites like Facebook, MySpace and reverse phone lookup online services. It’s the same sort of drive that keeps people sending greeting cards, and I’m confident that these two worlds and forms of communications will co-exist for many years.
While searching around, I came across this interesting response on a Yahoo Answers site. The question was, “Do you still write greeting cards and send them through snail mail.”
Nate Scott | SOC ID#136081 | SucceedwithNateScott.com | 904.838.2623