How Social Media Creates Christmas Envy

By Olivia Cerci

On December 25, 2014, I was delighted and content with my Christmas presents. 

Until I wasn’t. 

After unwrapping the pile of presents that had built steadily under the tree, I was thrilled by the hand-picked gifts. With my arms full, I retreated to put the gifts in my room. Before returning back downstairs for Christmas brunch, I picked up the family iPad, and logged into Instagram. 

Only 9:30 in the morning, and already photos of neatly stacked designer clothes and shining arrays of new technology flooded across my feed. 

Suddenly, my Christmas didn’t seem so great. I looked at the boxes in the corner, which now seemed far fewer than I had remembered, and left out a half-hearted sigh as I wished I had more, better, newer, popular things. 

In less than an hour span, social media had shown my grateful heart what it did not have and turned my spirit to discontent. 

Not a Kardashian Christmas

Skyrocketing social media use has changed the Christmas season for many. An article by the BBC has actually claimed that social media is killing Christmas. This author claims that in the age of social media, comparable hits of envy are just a thumb-swipe away. The inundation of Christmas posts are “enough to make anyone feel like their version of ‘festive’ is somehow lacking. Not enough cheer, not enough twinkle, certainly not enough presents.”

BBC claims that social media is notorious for “fostering feelings of insecurity, jealousy and ‘missing out.’ Especially come holiday season. 

Popular sites such as Marie Claire are eager to reveal the yearly best celebrity Christmas decorations and modes of celebration. Kylie and Kendall Jenner are always certain to share the details and designs of their home holiday decor. The extravagant and lavish Christmas displays (in the extravagant and lavish homes) of superstars are enough to make anyone feel inferior. 

The uptick in social media usage increases FOMO (fear of missing out) and social media competition during the Christmas season. As Alexandra Jones says, “the rampant consumerism of the festive season seems to have become even more, well, rampant.”

In Your Own Social Circles

However, society’s “high and mighty” are not the only proponents of the Christmas comparison. A Redbook post in October even claims that you should stop posting your Christmas photos on social media. 

Writer Perri Blumberg explains that between “Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas, I deactivate Facebook and I delete Instagram. Unless I want a video montage of reminders that I’m missing out…on everything.” 

Blumberg, coming from a broken family, notes that the holiday season on social media is especially hard and insensitive when many others post photos of their large, fun family gatherings. She notes that the holidays are “a tough enough time to begin with when you don’t have extended family, and social media creates an added layer of FOMO-induced sadness that can hover.”

Reclaiming the Holly-Jolly Christmas 

A Refinery29 article published in December of last year notes that at Christmas, “the pressure is on to post the perfect photos and accompanying captions on social media.” 

CBC News elaborates that “as social networking grew after the launch of Facebook in 2004 — millennials created a different tradition: the holiday social media post.” The days of snail-mail Christmas cards are coming to an end. Instead, a holiday-themed post is now the go-to way to share holiday greetings with others. 

But, a 2017 study revealed that engaging with such holiday posts left a “fifth of 1,010 13-to 17-year-olds surveyed for The Children’s Society who looked at social media at Christmas saying that friends were having a better time.”

Social media is not going anywhere. So, perhaps, the Christmas season is an important time for us to consider getting off our phones. In doing so we flee from envy and comparison and can embrace the friends, family, and others in need that are around us. 

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