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Should you send Mom an e-card?

While it's cheaper and better for the environment, does it convey the same sentiment?

By Teresa Mears May 4, 2010 2:37PM

Carlos Alcala of The Sacramento Bee has brought forward a burning question of our time: Is it OK to send your mother an e-card for Mother's Day?


Rather than simply respond "Are you KIDDING?" we thought we'd explore some pros and cons.

The obvious pros, of course, are that e-cards are free and good for the environment.


"Scout's Honor" at United States of Motherhood, who describes herself as a 30-something mom, doesn't like paper cards.


"Here's the thing: I hate getting mail," she wrote in a post advocating the end of handwritten thank-you notes. "I glance at a beautiful thank-you card and then cringe while I throw it in the trash when I get it. I do the same for birthday cards. It seems so decadent and wasteful in this age of clear-cutting forests and global warming."


But some people say that while electronic cards and messages are fine for some occasions, Mother's Day, Father's Day and parents' birthdays are not among them.

"Sure, we're all very busy with a lot of things to do, and, yes, there are many free online card companies out there that provide creative, artistic and interesting e-cards," Annik Stahl, Microsoft’s Crabby Office Lady, wrote. But, "dancing emoticons and singing guinea pigs in an e-card just can't compare to the real thing."


If your goal is to avoid the expense of a commercial greeting card (and we agree that they are expensive), Trent Hamm at The Simple Dollar has eight tactics for handling greeting card occasions.


You can always make your own card. Your mother will still like it, even if you're 50 and totally lacking in artistic talent.


Paper greeting cards still have a lot of fans. The Bee cited a Greeting Card Association estimate that 7 billion paper cards are sent in the U.S. every year, but only 500 million e-cards are sent worldwide. If you want to send an e-card, the Bee has tips and resources.

One of the main problems with e-cards is the proliferation of malware and viruses masquerading as e-cards, making it difficult for a mother who is not computer-savvy to know which files to open. We've been using a computer since before some of you were born, but we agree with literary agent Amberly Finarelli, who told the Bee that the last thing she wants for Mother’s Day is more e-mail. "To open an e-card is almost like another piece of work," she said.

Interestingly, the use of e-cards is declining as social networking increases, Heather Dougherty reported at Hitwise. For Mother's Day, both social networking and e-cards are down, suggesting that -- surprise -- mothers prefer to network in person.

So is it OK to wish your mom a Happy Mother's Day on Facebook? Are you kidding? Only if you send her a mushy card. And call. And take her to lunch if you're in town. Then you can post photos of the two of you on Facebook.


Would you send your mother an e-card? Do you still send paper greeting cards or do you consider them a waste of money? If you’re a mother (or father), would you consider an e-card a thoughtful gesture from your child?


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