I know that pre-written store-bought greeting cards are not the cause of America’s current downfall, but they are a symptom of America’s cultural, moral and educational decline. Really. I know that many of you are thinking that I’m way off base here, but let me give you a few examples based on today’s trip to my local grocery store (the name of the St. Louis grocery chain is “Schnucks”).
First of all, I just don’t get why we need to segregate “boy” cards from “girl” cards. Take a look at these cards for boys and you won’t be surprised at the themes. There are lots of superhero cards and other action/adventure characters and themes.
Now compare the “boys” cards to the “girls” cards, where you’ll find princesses and other characters much more concerned about their looks than with their accomplishments.
As if girls don’t enjoy superhero stories (my daughters certainly do) or anything other than trying to look pretty. This greeting card sexual segregation reminds me of this recent post on America’s rampant sexualization of young girls.
There are also cards for men and cards for women, of course, and they too are segregated. Why do we use greeting cards to instill a message into our girls and women that they should be interested in their own looks and body image to the exclusion of their accomplishments? This destructive message should be stopped immediately, especially when so many girls are getting messed up by this message, which causes them to stop taking their education seriously when they hit puberty.
There are other problems on the greeting card aisle. Consider the sympathy cards.
If someone close to me were to die, the last thing in the world that I would want from anybody would be a store-bought greeting card with a campy message.
Sending a card instead of writing me a note (or in e-mail) tells me that you would rather spend four dollars to let a stranger write a message then taking the time to communicate something meaningful. I suspect that many people will think that greeting cards are perfectly OK because many customers are not professional writers and they are, therefore, and incapable of precisely expressing themselves on emotional occasions. I think this argument is absolute garbage. The purpose of a note should be to take some time to attempt to express one’s own thoughts. If people are unwilling to take the time to write notes of their own, it’s better that they said nothing at all. Just send a $4.00 gift certificate. It will accomplish as much or more.
I love superhero stories, including the Justice League, but the message in this card annoys me. When I was a kid, I received my fair share of cards with messages like this:
It’s incredibly stupid. Every kid getting this message like this knows that this message is written by a stranger “hired” by an adult that doesn’t care enough to try to get to know the kid. Instead of sending a pre-printed message like this, why not send a note discussing the Justice League (or other things that the child finds interesting)? Or, is it that the adult hasn’t really taken the time to get to know the child?
If you doubt this need to author your own notes, imagine any of the heroines in any of Jane Austen’s stories sending or receiving store-bought greeting cards instead of hand-written notes. I guarantee that sending store-bought greeting cards would be the absolute end of any meaningful romance.
Perhaps someone might argue that the store-bought card merely gets you started, and that many people then add their own notes to supplement the pre-printed message. I still think that store-bought cards are insulting and should never be used, ever. Inserting a stranger into the conversation merely distracts and wastes money in the process. I’d rather receive a ten-word note on the back of a used envelope rather than receiving the most eloquent store-bought greeting card ever made.
Greeting cards are yet another expression of America’s addiction to purchasing useless stuff that quickly accumulates in land fills. The more expensive the store bought greeting card, the more insulting it is. I’d much rather receive a simple scribbled note than receive one of those $10 greeting cards that has a little speaker and at that plays a silly song. This one plays the theme song from The Twilight Zone:
And by all means, you should never send a greeting card based on a television persona, especially a card featuring a character from one of those fake educational shows. So many of these cards communicate this message: I watch entirely too much TV or I think that you do.
The concept of the modern greeting card is hopeless, I tell you. Let’s immediately take down the entire greeting card aisle and replace it with nothing at all. That will mean that the average person (who sends 55 greeting cards each year) will have lots of time to do something more meaningful. Then we’ll be saving numerous people lots of money and encouraging them to try to write their own notes. Truly, in a country that makes education compulsory up to 10 grade, can’t we at least try to write our own meaningful messages to mark life’s watershed moments?
Greeting cards are symptomatic of something that is very wrong with America. Pre-written greeting cards are a much-too-visible symptom that Americans would rather throw money at problems than to deal with them in a personal and meaningful way.
“We’re too busy to write out own notes,” you can imagine many people saying. “We’re too busy working so that we can make lots of money so that we can waste that money on things like store-purchased greeting cards.”