The first step towards building a successful business is knowing what business you are in. At first glance, it would appear that you are in the greeting card business. Millions of people who have a hard time telling other people exactly how they feel, rely on you, a sterile behemoth of a corporation, to have a better grasp on both the fantasy of what the card recipient wants to hear, and the reality of the fact that most of us are too lazy, inarticulate and uncreative to express ourselves without your assistance. That an entire industry exists based on the concept that a stranger can let loved ones know how we feel better than we ourselves can seems impossible to reason out. I mean, how intimate can a thought be when it is available to everyone in the world who speaks English and has $3.99 to spare?
I had the misfortune to need a few graduation cards today. I don’t remember ever buying a graduation card before, although I certainly have done so. If ever there was an event about which I cannot muster any genuine feeling, it is mass graduation from any kind of institution. So there can be little doubt that when it comes to events such as these, I have needed to rely on your canned enthusiasm in order to give the appearance (if only for a moment) that I understand social cues.
What should have taken merely seconds, stretched inexplicably into minutes too many to count, as I read your latest high school graduation card offerings. To say that these sentiments are a little, ummm, DRAMATIC for a high school graduation would be an understatement. I understand encouragement. But this seems more like undue pressure. To wit:
“You’ve taken control of your life,
made some tough changes
and tough choices,
but through it all,
you’ve shown tremendous strength
You are respected for that,
commended for that,
and wished even more
Wow!!! Had I gotten that card upon finishing high school, I may have mistakenly believed I did something more than show up where all of my friends were, make fun of teachers and talk about myself all day. I mean, this card respects me! Nothing says “tremendous strength” like barely passing Trig! Wait. How does having a 2.5 and being alternate manager for the swim team get this kind of commendation? This seems like a trick. Maybe I should blow college off, get a job and get to know myself.
And if that one doesn’t create enough anxiety in the class of 2015, try this one:
“You are living the dream and the walking pride of our family”
Wait. WHAT???? I am eighteen. My biggest accomplishment to this point is that I did what LITERALLY EVERY OTHER EIGHTEEN YEAR OLD I KNOW has done, and received a high school degree. And this makes me the walking pride of our family??? What a bunch of losers you assholes are! SHIT!!! Maybe I should skip college and get a fucking job before this whole thing falls apart.
Then, next to that, was this card/psych evaluation/cautionary tale:
“Graduation is exciting, but it can also be a little scary to face the unknown future. But you’re going to make it because you’re that kind of person – smart, hardworking, determined… “
Wait. I am supposed to be scared? I had no idea. To this point, my main concern was figuring out how to give a handjob on the cotillion bus without spilling any of the vodka I have hidden in my tampon holder/flask that barely fits in my fake Chanel bag!!! FUCK! Wait. But I am going to be ok because I am “that kind of person.” The kind of person who people feel the need to scare the shit out of on my first day of adulthood and then reassure by telling me the kind of person I SHOULD be. Yes. I am definitely going to make it… fuck. Maybe I should just forget college and get a hostess job at Babe’s.
Hallmark. Lighten the fuck up!!! For God’s sake! You are supposed to be in the greeting card business. It’s not up to you to crush the dreams of people in their late teens who still think that Hemingway is a good writer and not just an embittered, impotent drunk. At least let these kids have the summer to hold onto the delusion that they are going to enjoy life and pursue happiness before they are faced with the realization that they are destined to be stuck at home eating Hot Pockets and watching online porn while emailing their supervisor the text for greeting cards.
Slow your roll.