Business cards are dead

American Psycho

hanks for handing me your business card last week. I recycled it almost immediately. Unless it was pretty, in which case I ate it. Didn’t even read the tiny lettering under your name that said whatever you do. Maybe you didn’t get the memo, but business cards are a novelty now — a status symbol, a fashion accessory. So are memos, now that I think about it. Both have lost their practical purpose. When someone tries to hand me one, I think to myself Oh my god, this person hasn’t even heard of LinkedIn?

If you just ordered business cards, don’t get all sad on me. People early in their careers might still need them. Or if you have a business card fetish, let your freak flag fly. Sometimes, they’re cool to show off. But your end game is to reach a place where nobody needs yours anymore.

The business card has always been a rite of passage, a point of personal pride. Sure, we all have fond memories of the first time we got actual real business cards printed for us by our employer. It’s like losing your virginity. Opening a little box of tiny cards with my name embossed on them, that was just thrilling. In all honesty, I was more excited about my first business cards than I was sex. At the bar, my friends all cheered for me. In my head. They cheered for me in my head. In reality, they looked at my card once and sighed, “That’s cool, Jessica. Waiter, can I get another shot?”

Those first real business cards arrived about two years ago, when I started my tenure track job. I literally stayed up drinking bourbon and caressing them for hours. I licked one to see how it tasted. If I remember, I took a selfie with my business card and posted it to Facebook.

The picture earned 7 likes total. One of them was my dad. I’m just kidding. My dad doesn’t follow me on Facebook.

Maybe somewhere out there people still exchange business cards. But in my experience if you really give a shit about staying in touch with someone, you exchange numbers right there. Or you friend each other. Or you follow each other. Or you send each other invites on whatever app.

Business cards only serve one purpose these days — to make us feel important. For that reason alone, we should keep them around. They’re kind of like the next step up from a diploma. After you graduate, they mail you that lambskin. When you actually find a good job, they give you business cards to commemorate the occasion, to make you feel extra special. But maybe now they should just give us 10 or 12 cards, not 500. Have one framed. Don’t hand them out to people. That’s amateur hour.

A few years ago, a bunch of us writers started drinking at a bar and talking about business cards and bookmarks and all that crap. Painfully aware of that scene from American Psycho, we compared business cards and bookmarks. The winner? This one chick had spent $75 on the most beautiful business cards I’d ever seen. Admiring her business cards, for me, was like gazing on Kate Beckinsale’s nude body.

My friend had printed a thousand of these cards. That was years ago. Last I heard, she’d given up writing and was working as a librarian somewhere. What happened to her cards? We’ll never know.

You see, the quality of her cards made no difference. On the other hand, I’m doing about as well as ever, and I always forget to bring my business cards. Last year, I attended six different conferences and networked my ass off, without handing out a single card.

You know what’s better than business cards? When people actually remember your fucking name. That’s right. When you make an impression, and when you’re easily searchable online, and you have a basic website, you don’t need to waste your time on business cards.

About six months ago, I decided to “update” my Rolodex. Flipping through, I realized more than half of my cards were sadly out of date. They fell into two categories: people I didn’t give a shit about anymore, and people I communicated with so often it didn’t make sense to keep one on file anymore. So I just tossed the whole thing in the trash.

Don’t waste your time or money on business cards. If someone else pays for them, then go for it. Throw a party and roll around in bed with them. Don’t bother handing them out. Not today. Not anymore.



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