By Timothy Dodd, Biology student
'I believe it’s important to understand what social media really is, how people use it, and how the picture it paints is often a bad representation of reality'. Timothy Dodd explored the role social media plays in the festive period.
Day to day, I’d describe myself as a pretty robust, resilient individual. I’m not easily offended, don’t really get ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out), and don’t seem to get stressed about a lot of things I notice others stressing about. But there’s just something about social media that gets me every time at Christmas. Just one or two apps have the ability to make you question what you’re doing, make you feel discontent with what you have, or perhaps make you feel that you’re not doing Christmas ‘right’.
Personally, I’m probably more aware of this as Christmas has always been a bit different for me. Being from a strict Christian family, alcohol doesn’t have much of a presence at Christmas. We’ll have a glass with dinner, but bottles of wine for the festive period are replaced with copious glasses of Shloer. Being from a low-income family, gifts were never as extravagant as some of my friends when I was growing up. My family is also dysfunctional. There are unspoken divides which mean we don’t have large family gatherings at Christmas. Rather, family get-togethers are organised more like drop-in sessions, with smaller groups coming on different days.
Now, as you may have gathered, all of this sounds quite different to the happy, bourgeois, traditional, ‘cheese n wining’ family you may see on snapchat, and I guess I’m just quite aware of this. So, for anyone else that can tend to feel this way during the festive period, what’s the answer?
Firstly, spend less time on social media, or veto it altogether! Focus on your family around you, and learn to be accepting of your Christmas situation regardless of how it might be for others; there is no right or wrong way to do Christmas. It only takes a walk down the high street at this freezing time of year to remind you how lucky we are to be in a warm house for Christmas.
Secondly, social media is not reality, it’s a filtering of reality. That is, it cares not for what the majority of your friends are actually doing, it’s a subset of your friends: those who are doing something that they want to shout about. Think about it. If you’re at home, not doing anything, or feeling lonely this Christmas, are you going to post about that on snapchat? The answer is probably not. These feeds are constituted of people who ARE at the club, who ARE (seemingly) having a good time. It’s those who ARE happy about their Christmas spread with their crystal wine glasses and all the trimmings one could dream of – it’s not everybody.
It does seem, from the attention I’ve paid to apps such as snapchat, that it’s often used as a ‘look at me I have friends, HONESTLY, LOOK, I HAVE FRIENDS!’ façade, with a general rule of thumb being: the longer the snapchat story the higher the levels of personal insecurity. I can think of few other reasons in a pitch-black club, to justify shining a blinding camera light in your friends face as they try and live in the present moment. As with anything, social media must be consumed in moderation, and I believe it’s important to understand what social media really is, how people use it, and how the picture it paints is often a bad representation of reality.
Featured Image: Kt photography / unsplash
What do you think of our use of social media during holiday periods? Let Epigram know: