Friday, December 18, 2009

Death to Smoochy

Death to Smoochy is a 2002 movie starring Robin Williams, as a once famous, now infamous child's program host named "Rainbow Randolph" who is displaced by Sheldon Mopes (played by Edward Norton) whose child's program character "Smoochy" has replaced Rainbow Randolph in the hearts and minds of the kids and parents of the world. While Sheldon is full of good will and is just what is called for, Robin Williams character wants to kill Smoochy for making his character obsolete.

The reason I bring it up is that it seems like a fitting analogy for what e-mails, blogging and Facebook are doing to the holiday card industry. I don't know about you, but in the last two years, I've noticed a steady drop in the number of both personal and business holiday cards that come in the mail. From a business standpoint, perhaps the economy is partly to blame, but I've notice I get more of these blast e-mail holiday greetings from both local and national business I deal with like the one here that I received from USA Triathlon.

I've also noticed the little reminders of my friends upcoming birthdays on Facebook. I try to make sure to post a short birthday good wish to my friends when I see its their birthday. In that respect, Facebook has made us all closer. I certainly couldn't keep up with all of my friends birthdays. Prior to Facebook, I could not keep up with all of my friends lives. Thus, I'm a fan of Facebook. I am able to keep in light touch with the goings on of friends from high school and elsewhere around the country that I would find impossible to do otherwise. With Facebook, it doesn't take up more than a few minutes every few days to have a general idea of what your friends are doing.

However, Facebook and blogs seem to have done away with the need for the year end summary we would get in mailed holiday cards. We also get pictures posted over the year, so there is no need for the holiday family photo. Without those inserts, we are reduced to the social formality of sending out cards to family and friends who send us one.

I knew we were getting into a new social norm when I got an e-mail from an aunt and uncle that said that their e-mail holiday message was in lieu of a mailed holiday card. This e-mail holiday greeting is coming from my parent's generation, usually the last to adopt any new internet based practice. If my parent's generation has abandoned the practice of a mailed holiday card, the mailed holiday card is going the way of "Rainbow Randolph."

I'm not saying that this new "Smoochy" era is bad. In fact, I kind of like it. Its just that I grew up in the "Rainbow Randolph" era and its taking me a while to get used to the new social norms. It was always nice to get a personal holiday card in the mail. Those personal cards preserved a little of that childhood joy of a surprise in the mail in the days leading up to Christmas.

I may be an old dog, but I do my best to learn the new "e" tricks. I've ordered myself a Garmin navigation system for the car. I've upgraded to the new waterproof Garmin 310 watch from the "don't submerge" 305. I'm even finally upgrading to an iPhone. However, the death of the mailed holiday card seems immanent.

This became apparent to me as I tried to retrieve my Xmas mailing list from my computer. It seems that as the operating systems on our computers keeps getting updated and "improved," more and more of our old software ceases to function properly or at all. After upgrading our server at the office and centralizing our data, I can not find my Xmas list data. Furthermore, that mailing list software keeps crashing. If there is a conspiracy here, I think its that the operating system upgrades are a mechanism to keep us buying new software. Yea old planned obsolescence.

The point is that I can't find or use my Xmas list data and I don't have the time to try to reconstruct it from scratch. Don't take it as a personal insult if you send a card to me and don't get one in return. Instead, consider this my holiday greeting to you. I know this has little to do with triathlons, running, biking or training, but I did work in USA Triathlon and my Garmin 310. I'll get back to running and triathlon postings soon enough. In the meantime, "Merry Christmas" to my Christian friends, "Happy Hanukkah" to my Jewish friends, and "Happy Festivus" to the rest of us.

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