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Digital Life

Your next birthday greeting won't have a stamp attached

In the current digital age there are so many ways to interact or keep in touch with friends and family. There is no shortage of messaging services from Snapchat to Google Talk, and with Facebook connecting everyone, it's even easier to communicate. So with this rise in digital communication it should be no surprise that our need to send physical greeting cards is diminishing.

In a recent Bits story at the New York Times, Nick Bilton talks about how his most recent birthday wishes came entirely in digital form, saying "It was the first year since I was born that my birthday wishes were all digital." Bilton says he received well-wishes via services like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Snapchat, and even some good old fashioned text messages.

He discusses the current downward trend with physical greeting cards, citing a report by IbisWorld, which indicates that over the last decade the greeting card business has fallen by 60 percent. Bilton mentions another IbisWorld report, noting that digital greeting cards are growing with "a 20-percent increase from 2012." In a Boston Globe article Heather Hollingsworth dives a bit further into this, noting that consumers aren't turning to pre-made paper cards anymore and that "people use online photo sites to upload images and write their own greetings." Hollingsworth specifically mentions Hallmark as a company trying to adapt to changes by releasing an iPhone app that lets consumers buy and mail cards from their phones.

Thanks to social networks like Facebook who put your birthday front and center, it's easy to see how digital interaction has taken over. All you need to do is sign into Facebook and you're presented with all your friends' birthdays for the day, week, and you can even look into the future. Then you can just wish them a happy one right on Facebook; no need to run out to the store and buy a card.

The advancement of technology has made interacting so much easier, so the evolution to a less personal congratulations only seems natural. As the digital age continues to evolve and grow, perhaps we'll begin to a see a shift again. As more tools continue to become available to allow our creative freedom to flourish through video or pictures, perhaps the desire to simply say "Happy Birthday" on Facebook will turn into a more interactive form.

Photo: jebb