|Photo by Twice25 (Wikimedia Common)|
by Peggy Robin
Spring is birthday season in my family, and these days, with a birthday celebrant just as likely to live in a far-flung corner of the globe as nearby, that means I will be sending a card, rather than giving one in person and watching the celebrant blow out the candles on a real cake.
The question is: to snail-mail a paper card or pick-and-click a virtual one? There are things to be said for and against either way. If you can’t be there to hand over the card in person, it shows that a certain amount of thought and effort went into the process when you’ve gone to a cardshop and picked something out, put it in an envelope, hand addressed and stamped it, and trusted it to the US Postal Service to deliver it to the person’s mailbox on time. The recipient can (or should) imagine you standing for long periods of time in the aisles of the cardshop, opening vast quantities of paper cards, until you finally decided upon what you deemed to be the best choice for the birthday boy or girl. You searched for one that’s funny but not insultingly so -- still maybe a bit on the edgy side, for someone with the right sense of humor. It’s tricky, sometimes to know what’s appropriate. On the other hand, by just the nature of this process you have contributed to the waste of trees (even if it says “made with 100% recycled paper,” there’s still the envelope) and the fractional cost of the gas used in the shopping expedition and the postal vehicles involved. E-Cards are certainly eco-friendlier.
On the other, other hand, the birthday person knows far less time and effort went into sending an ecard. Some people are offended by the thought that all you did was gaze at a few choices on a website, type in an email address, and click. It cost you nothing. You can argue that you put as much thought into finding a particular message that wasn’t offensive, or too smarmy, or too much of a cliche, just as you would with a paper card. But you know and the recipient knows, too: it’s not the same. Browsing the web is faster and easier. You never leave your comfy swivel chair.
And you can always make an e-card more personal by choosing one from someplace that lets you insert a photo or record your own greetings. Here are a trio of sites that let you do that:
Jib-Jab: http://www.jibjab.com/birthdays - Some of the funniest cards are on this site. I have to admit I do like their Socrates, the talking sock puppet.
E-Greetings: http://www.egreetings.com/birthday?path=2454681& Very easy to navigate this huge card site. You can even browse by tone: funny, heartfelt, cute, traditional, or risque.
Blue Mountain: http://www.bluemountain.com/ecards/birthday. On this site take a look at the talking e-cards. Type in your greeting and then choose a voice/accent to deliver the message.
But my favorite is Some ECards, http://www.someecards.com/ . Warning, this site is not for everyone. Some of the humor is well, on the raw side. But for people who like the offbeat, you can find some of the off-beaten-est things here.
For some special occasions, though, a handmade card is still the best and only right choice. I think today is one of those birthdays. It’s my mother’s 90th. Happy Birthday, Mom!
Still Life With Robin is published on Saturdays on the Cleveland Park Listserv, www.cleveland-park.com and All Life Is Local.