Valentine's Day: Paper cards survive in digital age
Feb 14, 2013 (La Crosse Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
There's no wrong way to say I love you. Tweets are sweet and e-cards are fun, but in an era of instant communication, an old-fashioned valentine still is still the method of choice for many hopeless romantics today for Valentine's Day.
"A physical card is definitely the way to go," said Nick Graham of Onalaska, who was buying a last-minute valentine for his girlfriend Wednesday afternoon at Target in Onalaska. "It's more formal and more intimate."
Americans will purchase 145 million Valentine's Day cards this year, according to projections by the Greeting Card Association, making it the second biggest card-giving holiday of the year, after Christmas.
Scores of red and pink envelopes found their way into the mail mix at the La Crosse Post Office this week, said Norb Novotny, manager of mail processing. Tuesday's outgoing mail volume was 25 percent higher than a normal day, thanks to the cards.
"Package business is way up too," he said, with an especially big increase in the number of care packages being delivered to students living in college residence halls.
Last-minute shoppers filled the greeting card aisles at area stores. Not surprisingly, most of them were men, said Ruth Kinstler, who manages two Hallmark stores in La Crosse.
Walgreens on Mormon Coulee Road saw Valentine's Day card sales increase by as much as 6 percent over this week compared with last year.
But as a new, tech-savvy generation comes of age, that may change.
Pamela Morris, who teaches a course on contemporary media in everyday life at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, often polls her students on their preferred method when it comes to romantic communication.
"A good 40 percent prefer a one-on-one phone call," she said, "but another 40 percent (prefer) a text message."
Electronic communication takes some of the pressure off, she said. There are more choices than ever when it comes to expressing affection, and for the "new media generation," wishing a sweetheart a happy Valentine's Day on Facebook is considered just as appropriate as a card.
"Distances are becoming shorter and media is bringing people closer together," Morris said. "In the future, we could definitely see a paperless Valentine's Day."
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