Christmas Card Spam

Call me scrooge if you want to, but I can’t help but notice a new trend. Call it Christmas Card Spam.

Christmas cards used to be handwritten and thoughtful. They took a lot of time and were thus sent just to people who actually wanted to receive them.

Then the professional printers stepped in and Christmas cards became a bulk item. Businesses get them by the hundreds. Even ordinary folk can count on dozens of cards every year. You might not wanted to get a Christmas card from your Xerox machine service guy, but hey, it only took a second to chuck it. More important, the cost of the card and the stamp made it prohibitively expensive for the Xerox guy to send 1,000 or 4,000 cards.

Today, thanks to the zero-cost nature of email, the equation has been completely reversed. The cost to the sender of a card is essentially zero. The cost to the recipient, however, is significant. This stupid snowman card (who, exactly, is Telemak and why are they writing to me?) took about 20 seconds to receive via my DSL connection. Watching my email take five or six minutes is enough to induce Dickensian feelings, for sure. Telemak must have sent 10,000 cards… costing the recipients about 50 hours of download time.

So, one more treasured tradition trashed by new media.

Happy Holidays!