360/366 – Physical Gifting Outdoes Digital Gifting

For all my talk about how technical marvels and advancements have enhanced or made easier the holiday season, there are still things that seem to trump the holiday as far as traditional customs. One of these, for all the instantaneous gratification that digital delivery has given us, has to be physical gifting. It’s been a time-honored tradition for many years during the Christmas season, and there’s plenty of reason for the wonders of tech and the internet to have not supplanted that tradition’s impact.

The easiest reason for this is the visual, physical aid of it all. A digital gift given is for the most part a nebulous collection of 1’s and 0’s, a form taken via email or by text or by internet hyperlink, and while the result of getting a gift into someone’s hands is the same, it’s not quite as impactful as handing a gift over to someone – a real, actual, physical gift – and watching their eyes light up in anticipation of what it is – and then to have some measure of gratitude over getting what they might have been looking for. While technology has a way of simulating or making better some things that used to be done physically all the time, it has yet to hold a candle to some of the experience of actual gift-giving.

Really, the process of preparation and finding a physical gift to give to someone is currently enhanced by the fact that we have technology and not necessarily replaced by it. Amazon makes things easier to find and acquire online so that we don’t have to suffer through crazy Christmas shopping environments. The internet generally allows us to find websites and stores that sell the vague and interesting things that might be good for giving during the holiday season as physical gifts. And social media can help us keep tabs on family that might be seeking one thing or another without actually having to tip your hand to ask them directly what they might want, so that when they do get it, it’s a nice little surprise that you get to enjoy watching unfold for the holiday.

What it really boils down to as far as physical gifting is a truly human experience – one that you can have some kind of assistance with if you have faraway family member or friends and you have a webcam or other communications medium online, but not one that you can really, truly replace right now. Shopping, wrapping, giving, and watching the unwrapping and gratitude is a singularly humanizing experience for many people during the holiday season and if anything, helps you forget the fact that there are sometimes tougher times ahead after the holidays fade away. It’s a feeling that digital gifting hasn’t been really able to completely replicate yet, and in some respects, perhaps it’s better that it never do so.

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