Friday, December 11, 2015

Holidays And Social Media

Those who know me individually on social media know that I tend to post quite a few more pictures and status updates around holidays, with a big push around Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. To some people, this may seem like a bit much, maybe even oversharing. I want to spend a few minutes with today's Friday spotlight to address that, and maybe offer a different perspective. If nothing else, it gives me an excuse to do another holiday post, and I rather enjoy holiday posts.

When I was a child, the whole family would gather for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My grandmother kept a stack of folding chairs in the spare bedroom, and we would bring those out, spread them around the house, and still not have nearly enough seating space. The house would be wall-to-wall children. Because I grew up in south Texas, this was handled fairly easily by tossing the children outside when their presence was not actually needed inside. That meant that we children got to file through the meal line first, so that we could get our food and get outside, out of the way. There are always benefits, if you know how to look for them.

As we got older, people moved away and the gatherings got smaller. My generation of cousins is rather large (I honestly couldn't give you a count - we collect cousins like some people collect coins), but my generation has also had far fewer children than our parents did. More of us also "left home" than was done by the previous generations, and both of these factors are generally true nationally. Family sizes have been steadily shrinking for generations now, more people live their adult lives some place far removed from where they lived their childhood than ever before. I think most of us know this, but it can lead to side effects that may go overlooked.

When I lived in south Texas and wanted to share something with my Mom, I just drove down the street. That street might be as much as thirty minutes or even an hour long - we didn't always live in the same town - but we could drive it without issue. When I wanted to share the decorations with the family, I just invited them over for barbecue, and vice versa. Obviously, things aren't so simple when you live more spread out.

If "what I want" were the only consideration, we would be back home in south Texas, and things would be easier. They still wouldn't be easy, though. Being closer to my family means being further from heather's family. Life is not always easy, and "what I want" is nowhere near the only consideration. All things taken together at the moment equals us continuing to live rather far removed from people we would rather have just down the street.

Enter social media. It isn't perfect, by any means, but social media has allowed us to share with distant people more easily than ever before. When I post those pictures of our decorations, I am sharing with the people I wish could see them in person. When they post their pictures, that is my way of staying in touch with family I can't see every day.

Try to keep this in mind when you see someone taking a picture or sharing on Facebook. It isn't always what you think. There has been a movement lately, judging people for their posts and reminding people to put down the camera and experience the moment but, for some people, that camera is part of the experience. If you have the people you want to share with right there so you can share, or perhaps if you are the type who doesn't like to share as much anyway, try to remember that not everyone has the same or is the same. Take a moment to step outside of yourself and try to be more understanding. The people around you may have experiences and needs you know nothing about. Go easy on the judgment if there isn't some kind of life-threatening need.

Happy Friday, have a great weekend, and enjoy this holiday season. Love the ones you love, and share some love with the people around you. Remember that love actually increases by being shared.

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