Like I said above, Facebook normally makes me sad.
It also normally makes me annoyed.
And that was certainly the case here. At first.
But, over the past year or so, I’ve changed how I use Facebook.
I don’t go there expecting to connect in a meaningful way.
No, now I use it as a reality barometer. I challenge myself to find the posts that seem the most authentic.
Now, authentic to me is not going to be authentic to somebody else. I get that. But I enjoy the game I’ve created.
I scan through Facebook posts, not hoping to find joy, but, instead, hoping to find a diamond in the rough.
I look for less polished over more polished. I look for vulnerability instead of overconfidence. I avoid what’s political to find what’s personal.
Believe me, it’s not easy.
But if I timebox my Facebook use, and I approach the platform in this way, I can come up with some pretty interesting insights.
And that was the case this holiday season.
Here’s what I learned from Facebook during the 2020 holidays:
People don’t need much to be happy during the holidays. Gatherings were smaller, and yet people proclaimed that they were just as happy.
Gifts still abound, but they were no longer center stage. My Facebook connections focused on, well…connections. With each other. With friends and family. With the important people in their lives. This time around, my connections claimed they found more meaning in creating meaning with one another.
2020 was a brutally hard year for some people. Instead of the typical holiday shine and gleam I normally see on Facebook, several people talked about family members they had lost this year or how grateful they were to just be moving forward. Seeing this kind of reality helped put things into perspective for me.
I don’t need much to be happy. This is something I’ve internalized more and more as I’ve gotten older. And I never expected to have this realization driven home while scanning Facebook. But by seeing the patterns on Facebook, by getting a dose of the good with the bad, I found myself. At first, I viewed the photos and long updates from a place of lack. I thought, Well, I’m not doing what they’re doing. I guess I should have more going on this Christmas. And then it hit me in a very visceral way. I have enough. I enjoyed this holiday season for what it was. I got to do multiple video calls with my entire immediate family, something that hadn’t happened before. I texted with more friends than I normally do. Because of the shift to remote work and the work I’ve done with The Mental Health Update, I got to meet people from all over the country and world. I connected with them this holiday as well. Getting a “Merry Christmas!” WhatsApp message from Serbia made my day. The Internet has brought me closer to people I’d never be able to meet without it.