Srinagar: The Internet is slowly but inescapably forcing the close of the greeting card business across the world. The sales of these cards no longer show signs of a surge, even on special occasions.
Owners of various stores across Srinagar said that only a few people ask for greeting cards nowadays, that too, on a special occasion like Eid. “Now, socialising is done through the internet,” they said.
“We have limited the availability of greeting cards now as people don’t buy them,” said Athar Qayoom, who runs a gift items shop at city centre Lal Chowk.
Another gift store owner, Mohammad Ali Khan, said, “From the past three years, I have stopped purchasing greeting cards from dealers as nobody turns up to buy them.”
Khan further said, “Some 10 or 15 years back, a huge rush of people used to come to the stores for getting the best greeting cards on the eve of special occasions, be it Eid, Teachers’ Day, a friend’s birthday or any other occasion. But this is all gone now. For the past decade, the Internet has been killing the greeting card business.”
How the Net took over the Social Setup
“The easy accessibility of internet with a smart phone has changed the course of socialising. Now social media sites have taken that space, it has broken the social responsibilities which an individual used to have towards another,” said Zareef Ahmed Zareef, a writer.
From greetings to even condolences, the Internet is catering to all, he added.
Taskeena Ali, a postgraduate student from Hawal, said, “During my school days, I used to buy two-three greeting cards on the eve of Eid for my favourite teachers, and many school friends used to do the same. We as a bunch of friends then used to go to our teachers’ home and, as a token of love and respect, we would gift the cards. Now it is no more done. The new generation doesn’t do such stuff.”
Shahana Akhter, an elderly school teacher from Srinagar, said, “Some 10 years before, many students used to visit my home with different greeting cards, both handmade as well as those purchased from the market, not only on Eid but on Teachers’ Day as well. But, with time, things have changed drastically.”
“I remember I used to decorate plates with different sweets and even used to prepare milk tea for my students. I was pretty sure that many students will turn up on Eid, and they used to come in good numbers with so many beautiful cards in their hands. There used to be a pile of cards, and I as usual decorated my room with them.
“Now with the digital age, the Internet is there, smartphone is there and with just a click of the fingers everyone is greeted, but that innocence, simplicity and overall binding of the social ethos is all gone,” she added.
She further said that, “Nowadays we come to know about a person through social media even if we don’t know the person as such. So the Internet has definitely not only declined the business of greeting cards but has also led to declining of healthy relationships.”
A History of the Greeting Card
The practice of sending festive greetings dates as far back as the Middle Ages in Europe, when worshippers began distributing wood prints with religious themes at Christmas.
Indeed the first Christmas card was commissioned in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole, who had helped to introduce the Penny Post service three years earlier. It was designed by John Horsley to be printed and then hand-coloured, either by the sender or receiver.
Only 1,000 of these cards were printed and sold. At a shilling each, they represented a luxury item at the time.
By the 1870s, the cost of sending Christmas cards had dropped to half a penny, establishing them as popular tradition.
One of the original cards, sent by Sir Henry Cole to his grandmother in 1843, was auctioned for £20,000 in November 2001, making it the most expensive Christmas card on record.