Holiday Wisdom...From Social Media? (2020 Holidays on Facebook)

Jordan Brown

I didn't have much of a Christmas this year.

And you know what?

It ended up being totally fine.

And I learned something big.

Well, several big things, actually.

Because this year, thanks to the addictive technology that is Facebook, I was able to look at other people's holidays from afar.

I got to see what other individuals and families did to celebrate with each other--or not.

At first, I felt like a loner leaning against the wall, standing at the end of the room while all my peers were in the middle dancing and having fun.

But when I really thought about it, I came to a very different conclusion.

Holidays On Facebook (2020 Edition)

You see, my outsider view gave me something special.

It gave me a superpower, of sorts.

I noticed themes in the Facebook posts I saw.

Certain similar poses and quotes flashed before my eyes. Normally, I limit my Facebook time to 2 to 3 times a week at most. I'll check in and see what's going on, and then I'm out to go engage with people on Twitter.

Why?

Because Facebook makes me sad. It doesn't seem real to me. In fact, I know it's not real.

Yes, it's a great way to keep in touch with family and friends. But it's also a great way to keep in touch with ads and more ads. And Facebook's fancy algorithm wants to keep me hooked, so it shows me the most over-the-top posts, created, whether intentionally or not, to get the most engagement from others.

Often, this leads to me seeing only the most dramatic displays of people's lives. It's like reality on steroids. If I saw it in real life, I would think, "Whoa, that's way too much. That hurts my eyes."

But on Facebook, way too much is the norm. It's what you need to do to cut through the noise and receive the distinct honor of having your posts SEEN by your friends and family.

And, boy, did I see some holiday posts this year.

What Facebook Helped Me Realize This Year

Like I said above, Facebook normally makes me sad.

It also normally makes me annoyed.

And that was certainly the case here. At first.

But, over the past year or so, I've changed how I use Facebook.

I don't go there expecting to connect in a meaningful way.

No, now I use it as a reality barometer. I challenge myself to find the posts that seem the most authentic.

Now, authentic to me is not going to be authentic to somebody else. I get that. But I enjoy the game I've created.

I scan through Facebook posts, not hoping to find joy, but, instead, hoping to find a diamond in the rough.

I look for less polished over more polished. I look for vulnerability instead of overconfidence. I avoid what's political to find what's personal.

Believe me, it's not easy.

But if I timebox my Facebook use, and I approach the platform in this way, I can come up with some pretty interesting insights.

And that was the case this holiday season.

Here's what I learned from Facebook during the 2020 holidays:

  1. People don't need much to be happy during the holidays. Gatherings were smaller, and yet people proclaimed that they were just as happy.
  2. Gifts still abound, but they were no longer center stage. My Facebook connections focused on, well...connections. With each other. With friends and family. With the important people in their lives. This time around, my connections claimed they found more meaning in creating meaning with one another.
  3. 2020 was a brutally hard year for some people. Instead of the typical holiday shine and gleam I normally see on Facebook, several people talked about family members they had lost this year or how grateful they were to just be moving forward. Seeing this kind of reality helped put things into perspective for me.
  4. I don't need much to be happy. This is something I've internalized more and more as I've gotten older. And I never expected to have this realization driven home while scanning Facebook. But by seeing the patterns on Facebook, by getting a dose of the good with the bad, I found myself. At first, I viewed the photos and long updates from a place of lack. I thought, Well, I'm not doing what they're doing. I guess I should have more going on this Christmas. And then it hit me in a very visceral way. I have enough. I enjoyed this holiday season for what it was. I got to do multiple video calls with my entire immediate family, something that hadn't happened before. I texted with more friends than I normally do. Because of the shift to remote work and the work I've done with The Mental Health Update, I got to meet people from all over the country and world. I connected with them this holiday as well. Getting a "Merry Christmas!" WhatsApp message from Serbia made my day. The Internet has brought me closer to people I'd never be able to meet without it.

What Did You Learn From Social Media in 2020?



And now I turn it over to you.

You and I clearly connected online, so I'm assuming you use some form of social media to connect with others.

What did you learn from social media in 2020, a year that defied all odds and expectations?

Was it what you expected to learn?

For me, a social media platform I don't normally use (or like) taught me some simple truths about life.

Facebook forced me to challenge my own views and come up with my own answers about how a holiday should be.

And, although I initially found the period of reflection very uncomfortable, I'm glad I took the time to do it.

Facebook, life life, is neither all good nor all bad.

It depends on how you look at it, and it depends on what you do with what you see.