“Christmas. It’s the “hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It’s the hap-happiest season of all.”
Or is it?
I recently read an article about a former Facebook VP who expressed his extreme guilt about being part of the degradation of society, particularly our relationships and how we communicate. Chamath Palihapitiya said, “It literally is to a point now where… the short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works: no civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth.” Even Facebook founder Mark Zukerberg posted his own apology recently, “for the ways my work was used to divide people rather than bring us together.”
And they’re right. Our addiction to social media has certainly impacted those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings, as families and friendships have been torn apart because of rants on Facebook and Twitter. We send e-cards, shop online and text our merry greetings in shorthand. Personal connections have been swept away by the digital tsunami. Elf on the Shelf has become a stressful competition for many moms. Busyness has replaced a leisurely lunch with girlfriends. Oh, for those days when families went caroling and actually enjoyed spending time together.
Last week I enjoyed an evening with girlfriends over good food and great wine. As we sat there, catching up on our families and what we’d be doing over the holidays, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Deep friendships are rare these days, and “happy meetings” should be frequent, not just meant for special occasions. Laughter with friends and family—actually sitting next to them—is good for the soul. It washes away the self-doubt that comes with reading the “Christmas card version” of someone’s life on Facebook, replacing it with unconditional acceptance and love. If even for a moment it restores hope in the world as joy overcomes sadness. As the old song says, “hearts will be glowing when loved ones are near.”
This season see how many holiday greetings you can deliver in person. Make a phone call instead of sending an email or text. Turn off the computer and gather some friends together for a bit of cheer. Go caroling! (That will turn some heads) Serve those who are less fortunate through your favorite charity. Think of ways you can simplify your busyness. What people want most is the gift of your time and personal connection. Every day make at least one person feel special, and this truly will be the most wonderful time of the year.