Would a digitized rose smell as sweet?

10 May

It’s the end of paper… I’m not sure if I care.

Wedding invitation supplies

Photo credit to y-a-n.

The other day I got a wedding invitation… via Facebook message.  My reactions, in this order, were:

  1. Friend 1 and Friend 2 are getting married!
  2. They like me enough to invite me?!
  3. A wedding invitation via Facebook message – that’s just wrong.
  4. Of course they sent the invitation via Facebook, it’s the only way that they have of getting in touch with me.

For the vast majority of people in my life, Facebook is the only way that I have of getting a hold of them, and vice versa.  I don’t keep Outlook or Google contacts; I definitely don’t have a phone book.  My phone is synced to Facebook, so it automatically grabs my friend’s numbers and e-mail addresses.  Directly or indirectly, my knowledge of how to get in touch with people stems from our Facebook connections.

Wedding invitations with bows

Photo credit to ewanr.

Still, a wedding invitation via Facebook?  It felt wrong.  But, I couldn’t quite put my finger on why.  Every other invitation I get comes to me digitally.  (Alright, most of them are just meeting requests…)  I’ve sent Facebook and e-mail party invitations before.  I’ve even created Facebook events for parties.  (Ah, college…)

But, in my mind a wedding invitation is more than just an invitation to attend a wedding.  There’s something tactical there, too, caught somewhere in the penumbras of “wedding invitation.”  Wedding invitations should have linen paper and too many envelopes, and maybe one of those see-throughish pieces of paper over the top.  And somehow, without all that, something’s lost in translation.  It’s like the denotation of “wedding invitation” transfers to the digital version, but the connotations don’t quite make it.

Having this reaction, thinking it’s not a “real” wedding invitation.  It’s déjà vu all over again.  I’ve thought the same thing about digital pictures and ebooks.

Woman in red reading.

Photo credit to paulbence.

I worried that digital pictures would mean that we’d never bother to print snapshots and that we’d lose the experience of sharing our pictures, really sharing the way that we see the world.  But I was wrong.  Facebook might be the best thing that’s ever happened to amateur photographers – it’s gives us an opportunity to share our pictures with our friends and family, without making them sit, desperately looking to get away, as we page through our prints.

I thought that ebooks would hurt literary culture.  That there was something magic in the touch and the feel of reading.  That a book was more than just the text; it was the texture of the experience.  And then someone handed me an iPad.  Those romantic illusions about paper and ink… they ended rather quickly.  Now I read more than ever and carry a library with me wherever I go.

The techy in me is an iconoclast, but the romantic in me longs for paper – ideally with calligraphy, at the very minimum with a serif font.  It’s going to be a long, protracted battle, but digitization’s gaining ground every day.  In a few years, I’ll probably be confused when a paper invitation shows up in the mail box – so inefficient.

Questions of the day: Should we smash the paper institutions?  Or, is there value in smell, texture, and the possibility of printing errors?

MaggieCakes is a blog about social media, marketing, culture, and what’s new on the internet written by me, Maggie O’Toole.  It’s been on a bit of a hiatus while I’ve been working on my MBA, but school’s out for the summer and the blog’s back on. Find anything interesting in the worlds of tech, culture, or social media that you’d like to see a post on? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at 2maggieotoole@gmail.com.

 

2 Responses to “Would a digitized rose smell as sweet?”

  1. Mary Kay May 10, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    I was just hired to use my calligraphy skills to address the envelopes for the weedding invitations of my neighbors’s daughter. The bride is a very professional twenty-five year old who lives in the digital world, yet when it comes to her wedding she wanted engraved invitations and hand calligraphied envelopes.

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