Time to remember social media is the ultimate holiday brag letter…
It’s December – the month of celebrations and candy canes. The month of Christmas trees, tinsel and tears.
Yeah you read that right – tears. It’s the month that people want everything to be perfect and it just plain isn’t. Not because it’s December but because life just isn’t perfect. Not in any month of the year actually but there’s something about the holiday season that has us craving perfect.
And doesn’t it just look like everyone else is doing it right.? I mean everyone.
Perfect trees, perfect kids, perfect freaking holiday cookies. Their relatives seem to turn up in matching outfits looking calm and full of cheer. Their kids never bitch and moan. Their husband doesn’t give them a dust buster (and you know they have a husband…everyone has a husband, kids, a holiday home and matching outfits at Christmas right?).
Oh and then they start reflecting upon the year that was. The raise, the promotion, the climbing of Everest, the losing of the ten kilograms and their new ability to tango.
And so maybe you were already feeling a bit flat – you’ve lost a loved-one, a job or a dream this year. You have to go to the in-laws and you want to go to your family (sorry even when we love our in-laws this is a BIG bone of contention for many), the Christmas angel you’ve had since you were ten is missing and your burnt those goddamned Christmas cookies (and I’m not even going to mention the gingerbread house) and then you look around and see everyone else’s life and it looks PERFECT.
So I have one thing to tell you. This is a lie.
Remember those bragging Christmas letters you used to get? A perfect family’s year condensed into a page? Remember those. Back when I had a small child and had struggled with infertility I advised a friend who was then struggling NOT to read the letters that year. “Don’t do it to yourself.”
Well social media is the eternal Christmas brag letter and you need to know that. Those perfect Instagram selfies – remember someone worked hard to find one good shot. Those Pinterest handmade gifts – only the well-lit successes make the cut and Facebook, well no one shares a photo of the kid melting down on Christmas morning. No one.
People think social media brings us together, and it does in some ways, but it also tears us apart, inside where they demons live. This is our fault too. When you share a perfect photo of your dog in antlers and you get 59 likes. If you say you’re feeling low – no comments, no likes, no one reaches out. We like using social media to create the illusion of connection because mostly we just talk about ourselves – just like in that Christmas letter – but it’s only a true connection if you actually reach out to people in a responsive way.
What’s the point of this post? Be kind to yourself. Step away from social media and go be social. Phone a friend. Meet someone for coffee or lunch or cocktails, especially if that someone is having a tough time.
And remember – you do not have to read the Christmas letter.