I got in the holiday spirit early this year, which was a large difference from last year where I felt no festive spirit until the week of Christmas. So naturally, I wondered why this was. What I discovered was that one thing was missing last year.
Community does the magic-seeming work of making our spirit come alive with joy. It’s people who put us in the holiday spirit, more than Christmas music and holiday lights do.
I say this because I’m guilty of being the guy who squashes intentional community. How do I do this? With my phone—or more specifically, my social sharing habits.
Ever since I upgraded to a smartphone, I’ve made it a habit to take out my phone and share about a moment before fully experiencing it. Not only that, but I feel the urge to have the best photo or status up, as if social media is a competition.
With all these habits, I’ve made myself into a person who stomps on true, life-giving community.
But I’m hoping to change that this holiday season. I want to be someone who sustains the joy of the season by cultivating the community I have in front of me. And so much of that requires me being content to not Instagram everything about my holidays.
Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t take any photos of our holidays. What I’m saying is we should strongly consider our social sharing habits so they don’t interfere with community this season.
So before Instagramming everything about your holidays, here are some questions you should ask yourself:
Who Am I Not Looking At?
I recently heard a convicting story about a toddler who kept yelling to his dad to look at him do something amazing, but the dad was too engrossed in his phone to look. If I’m honest, I probably would’ve unconsciously done the same thing as a father.
Here’s the truth about our social sharing and holiday Instagramming: We have to look less at faces and more at our screens to do it. This often means we spend less time truly connecting with family and friends we might’ve not seen for a while.
When we look at a person’s face, we connect with them more intimately than we do on social media. So let’s be happy to seal the moment in our hearts and memory before we reach for our phones.
How Might People Who Are Alone for the Holidays Perceive This?
Sadly, not everyone spends their holidays with friends and families. Some people spend their holidays alone. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t share anything as to not offend or hurt these people, but it does mean we should have a dose of humility to what we share.
Instead of bragging about how awesome your life is, let your words be seasoned with grace and consideration for people who might not have what you have. Or better yet, let your pictures be invitations for these people to join you.
What Is This Picture Conveying About What I Believe Is Most Important About the Holidays?
Many of us say that holidays are important because of community, but our pictures often say otherwise. Instead of sharing about our meaningful community, we share pictures of the steaming turkey and the cool gifts we got.
As ambassadors of Christ, we are meant to be a light with our social sharing activity, to reflect something higher than materialism, greed and vain pursuit. This season, let’s use our pictures to show there is more to the season than gifts and food. Let’s show love instead.
Am I Showing Off or Making Others Feel Guilty?
There are two extremes of motivations people have for sharing. One extreme is that people share to show off their life. They want others to think highly of them. On the other end, people share to make others feel guilty about their good things. These people want to drag down others.
Both extremes neglect the spirit we should be cultivating with the holidays. The holidays are neither a competition nor a pity party. They are for joy sealing community together, not dividing it.
Ask yourself, where do you lie on this spectrum when it comes to your Instagramming?
Is Taking and Sharing This Picture Helping Me Slow Down?
The holidays are a time for slowing down—to take a pause from the daily grind in exchange for the deep breath of loving community. But when we take out our phones, snap a picture and then proceed to share it, we are giving ourselves another task to do. This process of sharing in the moment is the antithesis of what it means to slow down, pause and rest.
The best moments always happen when we slow down enough to notice them.
So instead of gratifying your gut instinct to reach for your phone, allow yourself to slow down, to not give yourself another task to do. I promise, you’ll have more to remember because of it.
Christmas should bring us closer, but often, we let our phones and social sharing divide us. That doesn’t have to be the case this year. Let’s prove that we know what this season is really about—by Instagramming less and connecting more.
Neal Samudre is the creator of JesusHacks.com and is the author of Jesus Workforce, a guide to help people build better habits and grow as leaders in the workplace. Subscribe to his free course to learn how you can live like Jesus in a busy life.