How the Internet Has Transformed Gift-Giving

The tradition of gift-giving is here to stay, no matter how much more virtual the world gets. With an increase in the possibilities comes some nuances that people have quickly learned to adapt to. The receivers’ needs have changed, dictated by novel adverts and the fear of missing out phenomenon online. At its core, the custom still seeks to provide the expression of appreciation through a shared experience.


People give gifts as an opportunity to either show someone that they care or that they are grateful for them. For some, it’s a chance to get the receiver to like them. Other times, it’s a team-building opportunity where they scramble to figure out what the other wants. Whatever the occasion, the internet has created new ways to send someone a gift.

Virtual Gifts

As virtual workplace parties took over zoom meetings during the pandemic, people got creative trying to figure out what to send each other. Gift cards for online shopping, virtual cards, and even commissioned art have all found ways to enter the gift-giving madness.

In the same way, children who grew up with gadgets now have different wishlists due to exposure to technology for most of their life. They’re looking into game credits that they can use to purchase apps or games, much unlike the gifted toys a decade ago. But a precursor to giving any virtual game credits is to make sure that they have a gaming desktop computer build that can accommodate the game they want. Without one, they won’t have much use for the credits. So they would rather get a system and the hardware that can handle the programs they need to install to play.

Virtual gifts have changed the landscape of how children are given gifts. There are endless possibilities with programming, and it’s no surprise that so long as their desires are satisfied, they might program a brand new future for the rest of the world.

Social Media Wishlist 

Another thing that has changed whenever people decide what to get someone is access to a social media wishlist. It’s not always apparent, but a few scrolls down their profile can give an idea of their interests without having to ask. People personalize their pages and, as a result, become an extension of their personality.

At the same time, you can ask them what they want upfront or beat them around the bush in a conversation until you figure out what they want. Either way, social media has made it easier for givers to compile a list of options for gifts.

Another way social media has affected gift-giving is through directed advertisement. As mentioned earlier, people share their desires online, and that data is gathered and analyzed by an algorithm that allows social networks to advertise straight to their desired market. The consumerism habits of individuals are influenced by the incessant brand recognition imposed upon them, transforming the wants of all users. People are subject to a change in their wants due to the aesthetic of the advertisement that they are exposed to.

Subscriptions as Gifts

Subscription services are now more prominent than ever, as they have also evolved entertainment and consumerism. People pay to access content online like music, video, and books, while other curated subscription services extend a one-day present to a year-long commitment. Depending on wants and the budget, it is now possible to gift each other subscription services for online content.

The curated products and services are unlikely to disappear as consumers weigh the value of their time and their money. Having a business that chooses for you and removes advertisements whenever you’re watching a video or listening to a song is now desirable for millennials and younger generations who believe that their time and attention are worth more than a few bucks.

Overall, the internet has created a greater diversity in wants and what can be used to satisfy those wants through gifts. It has become almost inexcusable for someone to give a bad present because personal information is shared online. If a gifting mismatch happens, the receiver might start to wonder if the giver was actually paying attention in the first place.

It’s important to make the most of the available technology to ensure that the person receiving the gift they are given can actually make use of it. On the bright side, virtual credits for apps, games, or subscription services provide people with a choice on what they’d actually like to receive, just like a typical gift card.

Meta title: How the Internet Affects How We Choose Gifts
meta desc: Find out how the societal norm of giving gifts on special occasions or, maybe even to show appreciation, is adapting to the wide market that the internet provides.

Jessica J. Underwood
Subtly charming explorer. Pop culture practitioner. Creator. Web guru. Food advocate. Typical travel maven. Zombie fanatic. Problem solver. Was quite successful at developing wooden tops in the aftermarket. A real dynamo when it comes to exporting glucose in Bethesda, MD. Had moderate success managing action figures in New York, NY. Set new standards for selling crayon art in Salisbury, MD. In 2009 I was getting my feet wet with sock monkeys for the underprivileged. Spoke at an international conference about merchandising toy elephants in Nigeria.