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Fading romance of writing letters and greetings

The sense of financial, social or personal insecurity has blemished the traditional joy and excitement associated with Eid ul Fitr this year. The series of terror attacks, skyrocketing inflation and the sluggish economy have changed even our cultural landscape. Result: Like many cultural hallmarks of festive days, the old tradition of buying greeting cards and sending them to friends and family member seems to be fading away.

Exchange of greeting cards plays an important role in display of love, affection, emotions and nearness. In our society, it has been an established tradition to send greetings on Eid days as well as on occasions like birthdays, marriages, charismas, New Year, on passing exams just to name a few.

One can still find poetic, passionate, persuasive and comforting messages printed on the greeting cards. They are some time sentimental, silly, sweet, sensitive, religious and sometime historic. The cards available in the market meet the requirements of all the conceivable situations in the human relationship. There are in endless varieties, designs, shapes and sizes from simple messages like ‘I wish you were here with me on this Eid’ to such questions as ‘I often wonder what made us fall in love’ and more.

Personally speaking, I miss greeting cards very much. A greeting cards delivered by postmen, with lines of handwriting, loops and angles that give a reflection of personality and, perhaps, secrets tucked inside. Waiting for postman to receive a card from someone special is old fashioned but I still cherish opening envelops, reading, and reading them again. There is a romance in writing and receiving greeting cards. Sadly, I didn’t get any this time.

With rather longer prelude, endeavour here is to look into cause of the slow death of this beautiful cultural tradition and related print industry. Before the prevailing depression in collective mood due to security threats and economic crunch, the cultural custom of sending greetings gave way to the internet users when they started exchanging e-greetings through the internet and cell phones. Now hundreds of sites offering free e-greeting cards have come up on the internet and they all are innovatively competing with each other to attract the every growing users’ base.

Internet has become an inseparable part of everyday life everywhere in the world. Usage is exponentially growing and diversifying. What is surprising is that the internet has taken over old cultural tradition like sending and receiving greeting cards.

Over the years, innovative trend of e-greeting has brought many radical changes in the designs, colour and themes of the e-cards but the initial significance of this tradition remains the same. Internet that started as a data transferring device has come a long way and has become multifunctional – sending and reviving e-cards being one of the most popular functions. It is simple and process of sending a card takes only a few seconds. It is trendier. It is cool. That is why millions of e-cards conveying greetings are already flying through the cyber space from one computer to another.

"I used to send so many greeting cards to my friends and family members through snail mail on every Eid in the past. Now I am sending and receiving greetings through my cell phone," emails Zaheer Hassan, IT professional who has migrated to Australia only about two months ago. His parents are in Pakistan and in laws in UAE, "I am saving lot of money and hassle." On the other hand, Eid cards sellers, publishers, distributors are losing profit, and this segment of print industry seems to be dying fast.

Umar Kahn, one of the established greeting card sellers in Multan says, "As usual we had ordered and stocked cards to meet the needs of consumers. We removed books and magazines to make place for the cards display. But this year there were very few customers.”

In Pakistan, internet users’ base has grown over past years. Similarly, cell phones have become ubiquitous. Pervasiveness and the particularities of cell phones usage is leading to new online culture, in this context, on the coast of greeting cards printing industry. "I can see the time when greeting cards will only be found with collectors or only businesses and organizations will be the only users," says Atta Khan.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 2:03 PM,

2 Comments:

At 6:50:00 PM, Blogger jalalHB said...

Those who are in love, still write letters - perhaps you are gone past that "event" of your life.....

 
At 9:37:00 PM, Anonymous Carol Yates Wilkerson said...

Until I read this post, the topic was at the back of my mind. But I must say, each day when we get mail my husband will ask me "Did we get any good mail"? I know what me means...a card, a letter, something personal. We still do get cards, but the only one who writes letters to us is our older generations who don't use computers.

 

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