December Holidays and Social Media

So you thought December was the most festive month of the season? A month full of cookies, cake, decorations, lights, and some much needed rest and bliss?

It is. Except that it’s other people’s festive month too.

You’ve observed, quite rightly, that some are naturally festive, some achieve the festive spirit through practice and some have festivity thrust on them. But no matter who you are, you’ll have some festivity thrust on you this December via social media like never before.

You were hoping that once work or school was over you’d have the last few days of the waning year left to yourself to spend as you please. Alone or with friends. Your choice. You were hoping to bask in the contentment of having worked hard all year and were looking forward to the new year.

(Photo credit: barriebarrie)

Good. But social media has other plans.

You made a lot of friends and were too social this year. Not made friends so much as friended friends, exchanged comments with virtual acquaintances, shared recipes, blogged, and Tweeted to your heart’s content. These friends were made through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and many, many more sites.

Now that the year is almost over it’s the time to take stock.  You can’t just bask in the glory of having gotten through a whole year, now that the year is almost over. You’ll learn that that feeling of quiet bliss is a happy illusion created by a restful brain.

Social media will point out various things about the quickly wasting year to you that you had forgotten or had chosen not to remember. It will edit your year for you, jog your memory, highlight parts and gloss over others and make a clean presentation to you to keep you from the positive hallucinations of your own memory about the past.

See your 2013 Year in Review says the sidebar on Facebook for the last few days. If you click on it pictures from January, February, March, times that may seem way back in the past or totally inconsequential will pop up along with bits and pieces of your ideas and opinions that had seemed so profound when you expressed them but so silly in retrospect at the end of the year.

Or so foolishly hopeful.

Opinions expressed, relationships formed, mindsets presented then need to be revised or taken stock of now that the Mephistopheles of social media is here to demand your pound of flesh. (I am mixing up stories here so pardon me. There’s a quote that’s been stuck in my head all morning from Dr. Seuss. I posted it on Bottledworder’s Facebook page to get rid of it from my brain  but it’s still here:

How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon? )

Pictures, status updates, comments, exchanges that are chosen by your good friend, the algorithm, who knows incredibly more about you than you yourself will tell you your story of the past through this tool. A past that took place not even that long ago. Not even a year old.

Holidays, on social media, are also a bizarre juxtaposition of friends, festivities and . . . hold your breath. . . SALES! You needed a jacket or a set of hiking gear for the season? You definitely did not need another set of kitchen knives? You bought a TV last week for full price? Shame on you. Why didn’t you wait for Boxing Day sales?

The sales are all over your Facebook feeds and sidebars. God forbid you friended someone this year who likes Target. Or a  beaded necklaces from a friend‘s boutique who is only separated from you by two degrees of friendships.

Water Balloon Fight
(Photo credit: betsystreeter)

If you happened to search for an item in a weak moment, say a chair or ladder, in the dead of night or while waiting for the bus, they know. That ladder is going to hide as a very non-Christmas-y cookie on your computer and follow you around until the end of time no matter what site it is you go to. There’s going to be that ladder, made by a certain manufacturer, or sold by a certain online store on the top right corner of your screen, on the bottom-left corner, in the middle, as a mouse-over, as a pop-up, as a helpful email or any other  form you can imagine which will not stop until you’ve bought that ladder to save yourself or maybe not even then .

Besides, the end of December is a time when people on your list are happy. They take vacations, meet family, show off newly wedded bliss or cook  good food. It was perhaps always so.

But now you can get a close-up of the pie or the pudding with the cherries glistening on the surface or the spread laid out on the table as an update. You can taste the buttery crust melting in your mouth or the smell wafting in the air except that you can’t. Only one sense was certainly invited to the party, that of your sight. It was as if the auditory clicked on maybe on the evite and the olfactory and the tactile were left out of the party at which none was so upset as the gustatory senses. And the whole YOU, by the way, who wasn’t there.

It is someone else’s pie at someone else’s party for someone else’s tongue, nose and fork. Not yours. 

David's cherry pie.

December, at least for the globalized person, is also a time of school reunion parties when folks you remember as being in their late teens in the last years of school reappear on social media as balding gentlemen and ladies of substance, now holding up their drinks and wearing anachronistic smiles, as though they were still in high school many, many Decembers ago.

And this exuberance shows up on your feeds.

Yes, December underscores a time of taking stock and feeling the passage of time like no other. It is another notch on our small share of eternity that marks how far the video of our lives has played thus far and what might still be left of it.

It’s when you realize that there isn’t a pause or a replay button on this YouTube video. Neither do you have the option of unsubscribing from its feed.

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