Saturday, January 01, 2011

The Changing Times - New Year Greetings

I remember a time when New Year wishes were actually exchanged in person. This happened whenever you met the person the 1st time into the new year. This could be as late as the 3rd or 4th week of January. This was also complemented by a flourishing business in X-mas & New Year greeting cards. With the postal rush during the period, it meant that you'd have to mail your cards in early December to give it a chance of arriving on time. Quite often one would receive the cards in mid-Jan.

Cut to the mid 90s. With telephones becoming ubiquitous, and long distance charges dropping, a lot of new year greetings changed to phone calls. Usually around the stroke of midnight for your peers, and the morning of the 1st for relatives, elders etc. This meant that if you didn't wish someone within the 1st few days, you might as well save it for next year.

Come the late 90s, and free personal e-mail addresses caught on. This made things much easier. Especially for slouches like me. You could send out e-greeting cards to one and all. Didn't have to shop around for these one month in advance. Mobile phone penetration too had started growing around this time. These two changes reduced the greeting window to about a couple of days into the year.

Early 2000s saw the growth of SMS as a medium to exchange greetings. No sooner did the clocks strike midnight, than your phone would be inundated with a flood of greetings. The likes of me, would wait for about 30 minutes, go through all the messages recieved, copy the most creative ones, and forward that on to all our contacts. This to a large extent replaced the phone-call. But the e-mails continued to complement, since they were free anyway.

Gradually the e-mail volume started to come down over the years. This was being replaced by other forms of on-line greetings. The SMS continued. And the window for greeting reduced to about 12 hours.

This year, 2011, seems to mark the beginning of a new trend. For the 1st year in more than a decade, I got less than 5 SMS. It's not that folks were asleep. Logging into Facebook, I can see the time-line deluged with new year wishes, and exchanges. Facebook & Twitter seem to have not only wiped out e-mails as the primary medium of communication, they appear to have started pushing out the SMS as well.

And all of sudden I'm nostalgic for Bob Dylan.

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