How tech changed Christmas 

By Mary McCarthy (elf name?.. Merry Mc)

It’s hard to believe the very first text message was sent only thirty years ago!

On 3 December 1992 that Vodafone engineer who texted his boss ‘Merry Christmas’  could never have known how in 2022 our mobile phones would be running our lives.

This got us thinking at Christmas FM about how technological innovation has changed the festive season.

For many younger listeners it can be hard to imagine Crimbo without WhatsApp, TikTok or Snapchat, but the oldies can easily recall through the mist their payphone days. 

At Christmas FM we always look on the bright side of life and so we would say all the technological progress has been good for the festive season, even if we miss some things about the analogue past.

More messages now

Back in the day people did send more cards – you get such a warm feeling posting them off and getting them. When we saw research this week from the University of Limerick that found sending more Christmas cards is associated with lower risks of depression, we were not surprised one jot. 

So perhaps this year make the effort and you’ll feel better for it.

Today with the mobiles there is a lot more communication on Christmas Day – which can only be a good thing. 

When the word ‘texting’ entered the dictionary in 2010 billions of SMS – or Short Message Service – were sent every year. 

Today the internet-based messaging platforms like WhatsApp and iMessage are way more popular, with  research group Statista saying there’s now 100 billion WhatsApp messages sent worldwide every day.

On Christmas morning thirty years ago you would get a handful of good wishes on the home phone and from the people you met that day but now, well there is no limit. 

Everyone from the motley crew on the neighbourhood WhatsApp to the gym you left two years ago will be getting in touch to say ‘Happy Holidays’.

If you are thinking you might be a lazy lump on Christmas morning you could always write some heartfelt emails the day before and schedule them on gmail to rock up on the big day.

Booking for venues

In the olden days you just showed up for events, you were happy to queue, clutching your cash to pay at the door but nowadays has to be booked.

Which is annoying when the tickets sell out  -like the free market in Dublin Castle, as we bet loads of people who book won’t show up on the day, but on balance the anticipation you get when you book something weeks in advance gives you a real lift. 

As everyone over the age of ten knows, looking forward to something is often more than half the fun. So booking things is probably a better way to roll with Christmas events.

Streaming Your Favorite Christmas Songs & Movies

Your fav Christmas movies are just a click away.  Back in the day if you fell asleep on the sofa while ‘Miracle on 34th Street ‘was on TV, you needed to hotfoot it down the video store when they opened on the 27th or wait till next year but now Netflix, Disney + or Amazon Prime will sort you out. 

Likewise no need to be glued to the radio in the kitchen. Sony only added a radio to some Walkman cassette models in 1982. So forty years ago there was no listening to the radio while out strolling or sitting with your eyes shut in the morning on the bus. Today it’s so easy to bring Christmas FM with you everywhere you go on your mobile.

High-Tech Santa lists

Barbie dolls, a bike, and then since 1989 you might have found a Game Boy on the wish list but you had nothing like nine year olds asking Santa for Apple Watches or Playstation 5’s. Santa lists have gotten spendier, no doubt about it. 

Calling in the debts

Ok so you clubbed in with your brother to get a fancy fitness tracker for your mum and now he has to repay you instantly by revolut – no more of this ‘I’ll get you back when I see you business’ which meant that you did not get paid till June. 

Home phones

The home phone would shrill on Christmas morning and it was always the usual suspects.

Auntie Mary from Limerick or Liam from across the road reminding everyone to call in after Mass.

It was great to chat, wasn’t it?…and we can have the best of both worlds this Christmas if we call people up instead of instant messaging ( remember voice messages don’t count as a call). So, bite the bullet and ring up anyone you feel would like to hear ‘Merry Christmas’.

So much has changed on how that lovely message is delivered, but the feel-good substance of it remains the exact same!

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