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EditorialsUp Front 01/18

Up Front 01/18

I gave up sending Christmas cards years ago. At the time I claimed an environmental stance but really it was more to do with cards being one of too many things to do, and besides nobody would notice. I was right, nobody did notice, but not because I hadn’t sent a card, it was more to do with the plethora of new forms of communication that had begun to appear. Businesses started sending festive emails to their clients explaining that they would donate the old postage costs to charity. Early adopter friends discovered electronic greeting cards and those with more to say began sending short (mostly) digital video messages to friends and family. The traditional family photograph began to disappear from the mantelpiece and the amount of brightly coloured Christmas cards coming through the door dropped dramatically. And there was me thinking it was all because I hadn’t faithfully sent cards to everyone. These days, with friends and family spread around the globe, it’s hard to decide which method of communication to use to keep in touch. Is it to be through Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat or WhatsApp? Should I be spreading my happy festive season message on Google+, Twitter, Linkedin, Friendster or Bebo? And of course there are all my friends in China on Qzone and my Russian buddies on VK. Perhaps I should just crank up the webcam and say hello on Skype, Facebook Live, YouTube or Bambuser. There are just too many options. So many, that even some of those from the generation that grew up with digital communication are beginning to question the motivation behind the deluge of new communication platforms. A teenager recently admitted to me that she believed that app and content producers were very exploitative, especially of children. She explained that many of her friends were turning away from the pernicious effects of too much time online and believed that major corporations were using manipulation techniques to addict people to their products. The recent turn away from digital photographs, she told me, is an example of people’s need for something more real. There are many apps available now that will make digital photos look a bit more like they were taken with a film camera. However the most amusing, and in many ways ingenious one that she highlighted was an app that not only gave the images a filmy effect, but it would only let you take 24 photos at a time. Best of all, the app wouldn’t let you see the results for three days! Brilliant.

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