Has social media made us lose sight of what’s important at Christmas?

Christmas seemed to start bizarrely early this year, with selection boxes and other telltale signs appearing on shop shelves before Halloween had even finished. At that time of year it’s difficult to get into the festive spirit, but as the days crept on and December 25th drew nearer, the Christmas craziness became more and more amplified.

Festive shop window displays, Christmas music pumping from every store, lights, mince pies and mulled wine – the holiday season really is everywhere you look by now. But with so much on offer it can be difficult to feel like you are making the most of Christmas. There’s always something you’ve missed out on, or someone who’s having WAY more fun than you.

With the dawn of social media it’s easy to discover what everyone else is doing – or, to put it more accurately, to discover what it is you feel YOU should be doing.

Just when you think you’ve experienced a sufficient amount of Christmas magic – you’ve had a mince pie, you’ve swapped out your G&T for a mulled wine, you’ve even bought a gift! – up pops another filtered Instagram photo of a beautiful tree, or a Facebook status update about having a MAGICAL time ice-skating. Cue Christmas-related fear.

For most of us, Christmas week is about frantic gift-buying, being overwhelmed with pre-holiday work, and trying to navigate cross-country transport. It’s simply not possible to do all of that and fit in every piece of festive fun that’s available. But for some reason, as soon as we spot that photo or tweet, we instantly feel we’ve failed, that we’re not getting into the joy of Christmas, and that it’ll pass us by before we know it. Everyone else is happy and relaxed, why aren’t we?

The social media pressure even continues into Christmas Day. “Look how happy my family are!” “Look at how beautiful this dinner is!” “Look how amazing my boyfriend was to get me this gift!” After all, why else would you go to the bother of going online on Christmas Day if not to have a little boast? And social media is the perfect way to do that, with the instant gratification of likes and comments pouring in as soon as we make a post.

While social media is a great way to connect people, maybe this year we should take a step back a little. Firstly, by not berating ourselves for failing to get into the spirit of Christmas, and secondly, by not feeling pressured to post about every single activity we take part in or event we attend.

Just because that cute family photo doesn’t make it to Facebook, or you don’t tweet about how hilarious your Christmas Eve drinks were, it doesn’t mean those things didn’t happen. It just means you were enjoying them too much to be bothered telling a bunch of strangers and acquaintances all about it.

Next time you pick up your phone to check Facebook or Twitter, just remember Christmas is about joy, family and friends – not about showing off or feeling guilty.