In the good old days (some readers just love this term), we used to send hardcopy CNY cards by post or by hand to wish all our friends and relatives a happy CNY. The same was done for X'mas and all other major festivals. The more traditional of us still practise this as I continue to receive some paper X'mas and CNY cards each year. Most of such cards are handwritten, adding a personal touch to the greetings which somehow can be felt by the recipients.
However it should be obvious to everyone that there is a growing trend in the last several years. First, the electronic cards were popular and still are. We would exchange them with fervour using our office as well as personal email accounts. Then in the last few years, we also started to receive and send more and more SMS greetings, even MMS ones. With the advent of the electronic age and the Internet, I guess this is an inexorable process. Nothing bad about that (unless perhaps when you happen to be Singpost or is in the card-related business).
It is true that SMS greetings lack that personal touch. A text message cannot contain very much emotion although we try to include as many smileys and emoticons as we could to mitigate this shortcoming. On the contrary, even if you use ALL CAPS (interpreted as SHOUTING in emails and SMS) the recipients may not understand that you are shouting at them. They may be unaware of this convention, thinking that it is your habit or a matter of convenience. They don't get to hear the tone of your voice and neither do they see your facial expressions. 3G video phones may change all that in the not too distant future but right now, not many people have them or even want to have them. (Perhaps there are some people who either consider their own faces to be not worth looking at or consider that the people they often call have such faces.)
Besides, what makes SMS greetings really impersonal is that most of the greetings are actually being forwarded from person to person hundreds or even thousands of times. Why, I have received exactly the same SMS greeting from different people before and I believe so have you.
Therefore SMS greetings should be used with care and discretion. Tonight, I received a SMS greeting from an old friend which I'd rather not have received. Let me explain. Here are 2 screenshots of that SMS. (The identity of the sender has been masked out with M's to protect the
So far so good. It would have been alright if the SMS ended there. But when I scrolled down further, this screen appeared:
Now, I am not particularly superstitious but neither am I a fan of chain mails, er... sms. (This kind of stuff is for kids and the immatured.) So is this a threat? What is the greeting trying to convey? Goodwill or bad? What have I to regret if I just hit the delete button? Why send (or forward) such a greeting at an auspicious time like this? I am sure that my friend
My wife received an even more badly-worded chain SMS a few years ago. It cursed that some misfortune would befall her if she didn't followed the given instructions. My wife just deleted that sms
I am usually not a shrewd and calculating person
I didn't get any response from the sender which may be interpreted as good news. Maybe he got the message. But I thought that if he did, he could at least have the courtesy to say a word of apology, no?
So 'Happy New Year again to all and sundry'. (Frankly, I would have been very happy to receive such a simple SMS greeting myself.)