Over the last 2-3 years I have noticed a trend that many people are using Facebook to send celebratory greetings to one another instead of mailing a card via the postal service. While I completely understand this practice and use it myself to those that I do not have a mailing address for in my address book, it makes me wonder several things.
1) Could this trend be contributing in part to the budgetary issues the USPS is having, because we no longer buy stamps and mail cards? I know I buy the stamps, those forever ones in bunches so they get my money whether or not I mail anything out. I know in my heart, however, that I do not buy as many stamps as I did 5 years ago because I pay my bills online every month instead of writing checks and mailing them. I also get a lot more of my statements electronically, so this again means less for USPS to handle every day.
2) What are people doing with all the extra time they have on their hands because they aren't selecting cards, writing them out and mailing them to individuals? Its much faster to post a note online to someones FB account that to drive to store, find the perfect card, take it home, address and stamp it and put it in the mailbox, isn't it Perhaps this leaves them more time to play computer games. I tend to buy cards well in advance of the event, and I personally enjoy reading the cards in the store and the time spent selecting just the right one. There is nothing better than giving or receiving a card from a loved one that is so appropriate for the occasion. I am grateful that my siblings and I still do this with each other for birthday and certain holidays. My parents, specifically my dear dad, make their cards on the computer themselves and send those. Its always fun to see what he comes up with to send. I know he takes great pride in these creations. This year, for my birthday they enclosed a baby picture of me that I had never seen. Its looks to be a christening photo because of the way I am dressed. The note scrawled on the back in my mother's familiar handwriting reads "guess who this is?" I love that my parents have stayed true to form for over 50+ years.
3) Does the impact of receiving a message on Facebook make one feel different than getting hard copy mail? I believe it does in two ways. First of all, I receive more Birthday greetings from people I haven't seen in years than I would through the post office. So there is an impact in the volume department based on the number of happy birthday greetings received online. Secondly, I like seeing how people write funny and inspirational messages on my Facebook page to inspire me to have a good birthday. Its easier for me to read and re-read these lovely notes and messages from friends and family than to open up a bunch of cards and pull the cards out and read them. My parents always include a check in my birthday greeting card, something that can't easily be done online by folks that don't trust putting their information out there on cyber space. Its not the gift that is important to me. Its the idea that they are in their 80s now and they are still here with us and able to remember that its my birthday. I know I am one lucky gal to be able to say that to everyone. Many of my friends do not have their parents around anymore and I am sure they wish they did, especially on birthdays and holidays and at special celebratory times.
I'd like to close with a suggestion. Rather than just send a BD greeting on FB to a friend on their birthday, why don't you also pick up the phone and give them a quick call, let them hear your voice? I think that is something that most people would enjoy even more than a FB message. I did this yesterday with a girlfriend whose birthday is easy to remember because its the day before mine. She was glad to talk to me and I know it meant a lot that I took the time out of my day to ring her up and let her know that I was thinking about her, yesterday and every day since she lost her husband a couple of months back. I knew in my heart that her first BD without him was going to be hard. I wanted to make sure that she was doing okay and to let her talk if she wanted to about how she is doing. When you have a good friend, you don't always have to talk with them often, but you should reach out to them when its important and sometimes when its not to just let them know you are there for them if they need you. With unlimited calling these days, why don't we do this more often?