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  • Writer's pictureBrittany Cole

Season’s Greetings and Merry Technology

When technology began making life easier, our expectations changed. For example, when the fax machine (whatever that is) came into the picture, Annie’s boss no longer wanted the final copy mailed to him by Friday—he wanted the first draft faxed to him earlier in the week and the final draft faxed on Thursday. When the cell phone became widely-used, it no longer sufficed to get a phone call from your friend in the evening to discuss your day—you need hourly text updates and a consistent back-and-forth dialogue to chat about every event. When Amazon (our most humble leader) took over the world, it was no longer acceptable for any package to take more than two days to arrive at our doorstep (which definitely saved all of our butts during the holidays).

Annie framed it to me this way: technology has increased our sense of urgency. Because we’re able to do things faster and with more ease, we want to up the ante (or, as I used to say it when I was younger, “up the Annie”) to match our new capabilities. And during an already-stressful time of the year, we can launch ourselves into a chaotic spiral of endless to-do lists and holiday pressure.

Holidays are different these days. Despite whatever tradition you adhere to, if any, your holiday practices have most likely evolved in some ways. Humanity is always adapting and improving, so our cultural practices are bound to grow in different aspects, especially due to technological advancements. Even something as small as replacing the candles on our Christmas trees with electric bulbs to prevent fires is a “technological advancement.” (Take that, fire! I’m not going to let you ruin my Christmas this year!)

One holiday tradition that my family (and countless others) practices is the sending of Christmas cards. Every year, my mother struggles to find a family picture where my dad’s eyes are open, my mom’s hair looks acceptable (by her standards), my brother’s smiling, and I’m not making a ridiculous face (totally on accident and never to sabotage the perfectly posed photo). Then, she prints it with a little letter and mails it to everyone whose address she has. Even the process she uses has changed; it used to be a lone picture printed from the kiosk at the pharmacy and a typed-up letter, but now the picture is dropped into a pre-formulated design on a website with some fancy verbiage and shipped to her on pretty little cardstock and festive envelopes.

Although now I’m living on my own like an adult (“like” an adult; it’s all an act), this is a tradition I have not kept up. “Why?” Technology, mostly, and social media. When we post pictures all year on Facebook, it doesn’t hold as much weight to spend the money on supplies and mail everyone a nice photo from six months ago—posting a photo on Facebook with a holiday caption to all my “friends” will do the job in one fell swoop, and for free! However, this also means I’ve opened up a few hours of my time to fill with other holiday obligations, like buying one-click presents for everyone I know including the mailman, planning Christmas get-togethers with every group of friends I have, and dressing up my cat like an elf and posting her on Snapchat and Instagram. Congrats, Juliet, you’re gonna go viral! I’m finally going to up my follower count to 100--thanks Christmas!

Thinking about all this makes my head spin. December feels like a cumbersome checklist as is, but with all the new traditions and practices, even technology can’t take away the stress we put on ourselves. Or can it? Our expectations have evolved and while some of us recognize what really matters during the holiday season, we’re still pressured into spending mass amounts of money (which is no big deal at all because of the money tree I’m asking Santa for this Christmas) to uphold the sacredness of holiday excess…

Oh my, I got kind of bleak, didn’t I? Don’t worry, though. We’re still way better off than we used to be. For example, when you’re planning a trip to Grandma’s to deliver her cookies, you no longer have to trek over the river and through the woods of this cruel Ohio winter; we have the weather app, and we can plan accordingly and then take the safest route in our high-ranking SUV, and text Grandma when we get back home safely again. We’re not setting our Christmas trees on fire as much anymore, and I don’t know about you, but I haven’t started any holiday shopping yet, so that 2-day shipping is practically doing Santa’s job for me. But what do you think? How have you noticed technology—on any scale—changing the way you approach the holidays? How has it benefitted you, but how has it brought on new frustrations? How do we get cousin Mikayla off her dang smart phone at the Christmas party? Leave a comment, because I’d like to know!

Best of holiday shenanigans to you all, from Envisage. Santa’s watching you… So distract him for me!

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