As we went into the Christmas week, the thought that was on top of my mind was the intense penetration of social media in our spaces.
It relegated to the background, the personal touch and exchanges of greeting cards we once saw in our relationship with family and friends during the festive period.
From the beginning of the Christmas week alone to date, there has been a social media jam, sending one inundated and confused as to what to read, watch or delete. It has been a period of selective reading at its best.
My phone almost got to the point of tipping over with over 625 whatsapp messages and videos. On the other side too were text and email messages, not to mention the whatsapp calls in between.
The burden of belonging to so many group platforms manifested over the holiday season.
Burden because social media has enslaved us to the extent that we have developed a habit of instant rush to attend to the beeps just to see who is at the other end or what is trending with the temptation to respond to some.
At the end of the day, so much time was spent just checking and giving responses. We have surrounded ourselves with numerous social media platforms and have been busy in all the chat rooms so created.
Social media platforms
There are platforms for extended and close families, school year groups, groups within one’s church and work places or former workplaces. There are also such platforms for alumni groups, Bible Study fellowships, all in addition to the one-on-one personal platforms with family members, friends and other acquaintances.
So, as one went through the festivities, the convenience of just forwarding Christmas greetings, messages, videos, pictures and other chit chats was rife.
One could count so many recycled forwarded videos, some of which kept appearing on virtually every platform one was on.
Our service providers, including mobile phone operators, banks, shops, restaurants, hotels and airlines did not spare us with minute by minute text messages, all in the bid to solicit one’s continued custom.
Unsolicited adverts and promotions also came through, crowding our Internet spaces and smart phone screens. Some of them were mere nuisance.
Indeed, it was an active social media take-over this last festive season, the intensity of which overwhelmed me.
It was virtual invasion. One has spent time clearing the videos but many more are still popping up.
Truly, social media has taken the shine out of the once-upon-a-time Christmas and New Year greeting cards.
I remember the times when one would race up to get greeting cards posted off by the end of the first week of December so that they did not miss the Christmas post.
One used to treasure the warm thoughts represented by the cards that came through during the period.
These cards served as part of the decoration on our Christmas trees and centre tables reminding us of the warm thoughts from far and near.
Some of us even used to save a particular year’s cards and added them to the following year’s decorations.
This year, only one single card arrived for me in the post from abroad. It was not surprising, for being of the old school, this relation has always preferred the traditional way of communication since to her, social media is too artificial.
Sadly too was the far removed closeness around lunch and party tables during the season.
The power of social media succeeded in breaking face to face conversations during some festive gatherings as people stayed glued to their mobile phones and other devices, catching up on what was trending on social media.
The good thing ,however, about all these modern communication channels is that we are now able to chat with relations and friends far and near and share instant pictures.
By the power of video chats using Skype, face time or whatsapp calls on such occasions, one has been able to chat face to face irrespective of the distance.
The video chats gave one the opportunity to see the spread on Christmas dinner and lunch tables and how friends and relations far away were celebrating the event.
One saw and spoke face to face to friends and families making up for physical absence during the season.
So, good or bad, social media and related applications of today have succeeded in deleting the traditional human touch and feel even at celebrated family gatherings and re-unions such as Christmas and New Year.
It has been a season overflowing with virtual conversations and greeting cards. The name of the game during the festive period has been social media.com.