Online Communication Boosts Greeting Card Salles

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Just as the VCR has not been the death of the movie house, so too the Internet will not be the death knell of the paper greeting card industry. As a matter of fact, it may be just the opposite, reveals a recent sociological study by Dr. Barry Wellman, professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, and Dr. Keith Hampton, professor of Urban Studies and Planning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In a two year study of a new residential Toronto suburb wired with high speed Internet access, the researchers discovered that wired residents were "more active in the community, had more neighborhood social ties and communicated with those ties more frequently" than non-wired citizens. (1)

In addition, "wired residents had significantly more contact than non-wired: 68 percent of wired residents reported that their overall level of social contact either increased or remained the same as compared with only 45 percent of non-wired residents." (2) Increased social contact means more interpersonal relationships.

Furthermore, the ease of computer-mediated communication only enhances the intimacy of those relationships. Not only are computers bringing people closer together, they are also getting people back into the habit of correspondence by writing. In fact, e-mail and electronic greetings are complementing paper greeting cards, not replacing them.

For example, there will always be those occasions, such as weddings, sympathy or Christmas, when sending an e-mail or electronic greeting is inappropriate. Paper greeting cards, on the other hand, show one took the time to look for, consider and purchase a card just for them. E-mail is just so easy, that it’s not really special.

Indeed, the Wellman and Hampton study concluded, "computer- mediated communication is just another method of social contact to be used in forming new social ties and in maintaining existing social networks." Actually, "Computer-mediated communication seems especially useful for...
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