(File pix) Postgraduate students and their families posing for a Hari Raya picture in Brussels last year. Technology allows us to keep in touch with our loved ones and friends with just a few clicks.

KEEPING in touch with family members and friends has long been a practice during festive occasions like Hari Raya. Many years ago, sending physical greeting cards to loved ones and acquaintances was considered a must for many. One would spend time at shopping malls selecting the best cards with the best words to send to loved ones, then eagerly wait for the reply. Among family members, the one who received the most greeting cards would be the envy of others.

Today, sending greeting cards is still practised, albeit on a different platform. The advent of virtual platforms, such as the Internet and social media, has taken over the old way of staying connected. With only a few clicks, you can send your messages and receive a reply almost instantly. Compare that with the time when you had to wait days or weeks to get a response.

Today, we don’t even need to remember who to send our cards to each time a festive season approaches. We have apps that remind us to send our festive wishes across the globe down to the last minute of the festive cheer. Even if you don’t feel like sending an e-card, just post it on your social media wall to share with everyone your festive message. For something more personalised, you can call people, or use one of the many messaging application, such as WhatsApp, WeChat and Line.

Can’t make it back for the celebration this season? Fret not, you can keep in touch and celebrate with live video conferencing through FaceTime or Skype. There’s nothing to stop everyone from ringing in festive cheer everywhere in the world with the help of technology.

And, it’s not just about staying in contact during festive seasons. For those who travel long distances to balik kampung for festive celebrations, taking a flight seems like a better idea than driving and braving the traffic jams in highways and coastal roads. Websites are at your fingertips to book flights, make hotel reservations (in case the family house is full) and rent a car. Thanks to technology, we can plan our festive trips ahead of time. Even if you don’t have transportation when you arrive at the airport, fear not, as there are ride-hailing apps.

Not having enough time to reach out to all your families and friends to let them know that you are going home can be remedied by posting a message on Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. Rounding up the clan for a festive meet up is now only a few clicks away.

Capturing priceless moments of the festive cheer is also a breeze. One can capture every moment of the festivities on a smartphone or tablet. The best part is we can make sure we look our best in these photos, too. We can share the images right away on our social media platforms or save them on cloud storage, such as DropBox or WeTransfer.

While television used to hold our attention through the years, there’s just so much more entertainment resources available today with technology. Virtual reality seems to be the latest craze, so why not gather your favourite cousins and friends for VR fun while meeting up for the festive cheer. A gaming challenge over the web would work just as well. Go ahead and make online reservations for a family movie time together.

The festive season is not always just about us and our loved ones. It’s also a time where we can shower the less fortunate with our thoughts and kindness.

Thanks to technology, making a charitable contribution is also a few clicks away. Making a donation online to the less fortunate may just be the best thing one can do to make the world a better place for someone this festive season.

There are endless applications online to ring in more festive cheers, more each season than before. Maybe one day we may even teleport across continents to be with our families or loved ones during festive season. A little far-fetched maybe, but who knows? It only takes someone to dream of making it a reality.

Technology may have rendered some old practices obsolete. But, the tradition of keeping in touch during festive occasions continues, via new and more innovative ways. Celebration is no less joyous by harnessing technology wisely and efficiently.

Ahmad Kushairi is the editor of BOTs, the weekly tech section in Life&Times. Trained in maths, he has since traded his problem-solving skills with writing about how tech has helped to transform the world for the better. He can be reached via kushairi@mediaprima.com.my

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