Is it still cool to send eCards?
My sophomore year of college I thought it would be hilarious to send an eCard out to all of my friends using their Ithaca email accounts. It was an invitation to my roommate’s birthday pregame that was going to be hosted in a quad room of Emerson Hall. The irony of sending out a virtual invitation for a less than luxurious event made it all the more humorous. But am I the only one still doing this? Are the days of the obnoxious Hoops and YoYo singing “Happy Birthday” long gone? When next holiday season rolls around, is it totally uncool to paste our faces into the same old template provided on Elf Yourself?
The answer is complicated. In fact, upon starting my research for this piece, I casually typed into my Google Search bar “Do people still use ecards?” The top two results were advice forums of people polling the masses about this very issue, wondering if it was still socially acceptable to send their regards via automated link.
In a world where technology is thought to be the evil force that makes people forget how to communicate face to face, the intimacy of a handwritten card is actually somewhat outdated, according to Forbes . “With postal mail rates dropping and the cost of printing and postage rising—not to mention the state of the environment and our limited natural resources—the whole concept of a greeting card printed on paper and sent in the mail no longer works for business,” writes Forbes. Handwritten cards are likely to end up in a landfill right next to our plastic straws. Environmentally speaking, eCards might be the right choice.
Still, eCard culture is not thriving enough to completely take out the paper card business, according to a CNBC interview with the chief marketing officer of Hallmark, Lindsey Roy. When it comes to the holiday season, their sales still see a steady increase. “A lot of people I think assume greeting cards are like books or CDs, or some of those kinds of categories, but it’s one of those categories that actually have perennial benefits over time,” said Roy. The act of choosing a specific card for a special someone is still something individuals find to be very personal — and in fact, integral — to properly wishing someone well on a special occasion.
Like almost all internet fads, there are good and bad aspects of the eCard. For example, eCards can be seen as spam or even hold viruses, as stated in a Sydney Morning Herald article. “There’s a tricky trojan e-card that looks like it comes from Hallmark,” said Wong, an email expert. “It asks you to download an attachment to receive the e-card and that attachment is a virus. This is definitely not going to bring much cheer.” When picking out which eCard to send, it may take just as much care as choosing which paper card just to ensure to viruses aren’t sent.
On the other hand, eCards allow for more opportunity of creativity and personalization, as there are websites with hundreds of templates to be played around with to make the perfect one. Hallmark and American Greetings, two of the most well known card companies, host websites where customers can browse eCard designs too. They’re both profiting off of the possibility that sometimes people go for the easier, electronic option.
It may just be up to personal preference or depend on the situation to decide whether a paper or electronic card is the right way to go. As funny as it was to invite all of my friends to drink from plastic handles in a dorm room via eCard, I will likely be sending handwritten birthday cards to my family or thank you cards to my employers for years to come. There’s just something that seems so much more thoughtful about a paper card. Maybe it’s the ink smudged handwriting or the saliva used to stick down the envelope or the ability to watch your loved ones’ face as they open it… there’s just some things an eCard cannot replicate.
Alexis Morillo is a fourth year Journalism major and the Upfront editor who will gladly send you a Happy Birthday eCard. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org