E-cards and the hierarchy of holiday sentiments

Original image by Matti Mattila

We're now less than a month away from most of Canada Post's suggested mailing dates for the 2009 holiday season. If you're anything like me, most of your holiday greetings will find their way to the mailbox dangerously close to the deadline.

Nowadays, we have an increasing number of ways to reach out and touch someone1 over the holidays, many of them electronic. There are e-cards, Facebook/Twitter messages, email messages, text messages. Dominic Girard, who is a cold, unfeeling, dispassionate jerk friend and sometimes-guest-producer on Spark, said this after installing the someecards application for the iPhone:

I can instantly send someone something that makes it look like I care, I'm thoughtful, I'm thinking of them, and I'm clever. But in reality, it's simply because it's there, it's easy and it takes five seconds. That's what I like about e-cards. It takes the "thinking" out of "thinking of you."

According to a fact sheet published by the Greeting Card Association in 2007 (PDF), "An estimated 500 million E-cards are sent each year worldwide."

All this got me thinking: when it comes to holiday greetings, to what degree is the medium the message?2 Does an e-card mean more than a paper card sent through the mail? Does a paid e-card mean more than a free e-card? After mulling it over, I put together my own personal hierarchy of holiday sentiments, listed from most-to-least meaningful:

  1. Paper card
  2. Telephone call
  3. Email (personal, 1 to 1)
  4. E-card
  5. Personal Facebook/Twitter message
  6. SMS
  7. Email (bulk, 1 to many)

What you think? What does your hierarchy of holiday sentiments look like? Am I missing a type of holiday correspondence that you regularly send or receive? Leave your list in the comments, or call it in to 1-877-347-7275.

1 McLuhanism number one

2 McLuhanism number two


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