Are words meaningless when they are digital? Words without meaning & the reality of networked communication:
For instance, today is the birthday of one of my dear friends and I sent her an email and followed up with a text message exchange. Another friend in India, got a Skype call. To others I sit down and write a note, expressing my gratitude for their presence in my life, or even buying me a cup of coffee.
Earlier this week was my nephew’s birthday, and I woke up the kid while I was in Portugal to wish him. We didn’t exchange more than ten words, but through his grogginess I know he knows that I know how important he is to me. Facebook messages where you utter “happy birthday, xyz” is a pretty strong signal of one’s (lack of real) social bond. If someone is special we tend to write them a personalized note.
I suppose a hand-written note would be more meaningful because it is, well, hand-written and physically delivered. A quick message, email or post on Facebook could be seen as being too casual to have much meaning but I believe people who receive digital notes from me are secretly grateful that they aren’t handwritten because they’re at least intelligible.
(Via Om Malik)