Social Media Advice: Sending Holiday Cards

Social media experts Baratunde Thurston, author of the book How to Be Black, and Deanna Zandt, author of Share This: How You Will Change the World with Social Networking, answer questions about how to behave in the digital age. This week's topic: When it comes to holiday cards, should you send them via snail mail or email?

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now, from eShopping to eCards. That's this week's topic for our social media experts Baratunde Thurston, former digital director at The Onion and author of the book "How to Be Black," and Deanna Zandt. She's the author of "Share This: How You Will Change the World with Social Networking." When it comes to sending a holiday card, snail mail or email?

BARATUNDE THURSTON: So I actually prefer eCards.

DEANNA ZANDT: Really?

THURSTON: Yeah. Real cards is a real burden. There's a limited amount of physical space in my life - tiny New York apartment. Where am I putting the stuff? I don't have...

ZANDT: But it's just a card.

THURSTON: Yeah, but it's not, you know, I have to do something with this. I got to pick it up. I got to open it. And then there's maybe some expectation that I have to go out and buy cards and then send one back to you now.

ZANDT: Yeah.

THURSTON: And so by the time I get your card, it may be too late for me.

ZANDT: You know, but I'm so old school about this that there is at least a small circle of people - mostly family and friends who are like family - where it means something to get that little piece of paper in the mail. Like, think about the joy that you feel when you get something in the mail that's not a bill.

THURSTON: I don't feel joy.

ZANDT: You don't feel joy.

THURSTON: No. It's just - because mail means bad things are happening.

ZANDT: You are a bad person.

THURSTON: Mail means somebody wants money. So how do you - but what if you didn't send that person a card?

ZANDT: Then I feel guilty and bad about myself.

THURSTON: Exactly. And by the time you get the card...

(LAUGHTER)

THURSTON: ...it's too late to send. Now, we're just letting - now it's clear that you're just sending them a card because they sent you a card.

ZANDT: You know what, I learned this from my mom. My mom taught me to have the list every year, and now I keep it in a spreadsheet. If I got a card from somebody last year that I - I make sure that I send them the card next year. And people that I didn't get a card from, I take them off the list.

(LAUGHTER)

ZANDT: No. Just - it's like the balance of the world.

THURSTON: OK.

ZANDT: It is kind of like karma that way. It's a Christmas card karma. But I'm just not a fan of eCards because it's so easy to send an eCard that it just doesn't mean anything.

THURSTON: And it's so hard to receive mail...

(LAUGHTER)

THURSTON: ...that it means too much to me.

ZANDT: Yeah. (Singing) You say tomato and I say...

THURSTON: And I say banana.

(LAUGHTER)

THURSTON: It's better for your potassium.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET'S CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF")

ELLA FITZGERALD: (Singing) Let's call the whole thing off.

LOUIS ARMSTRONG: (Singing) Yes, you say...

CORNISH: That's Baratunde Thurston and Deanna Zandt. Have a question for our experts, email it to All Tech at npr.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET'S CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF")

FITZGERALD: (Singing) And you say neither.

ARMSTRONG: (Singing) Either.

FITZGERALD: (Singing) Either.

ARMSTRONG: (Singing) A neither.

FITZGERALD: (Singing) A neither.

ELLA FITZGERALD AND LOUIS ARMSTRONG: (Singing) Let's call the whole thing off.

ARMSTRONG: (Singing) Oh, yes.

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