Is Social Media Giving Us Unrealistic Festive Expectations?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! You’ve trimmed the tree, started to wrap your presents, stocked up on mince pies and warmed up the mulled wine; you’ve highlighted all the shows you want to watch over the holidays in your annual copy of the Radio Times, you’ve googled how to stuff a turkey and you’ve picked out your most sparkly outfit. Christmas is coming! My memories of the festive season as a child involve sitting around in pyjamas and eating my body weight in leftovers, but in recent years the introduction and proliferation of social media has given us a whole new layer of expectation. You can’t open Instagram without seeing endless photos posed outside perfectly decorated landmarks, or smiling families picking out their tree – our focus has shifted from having a great time, to documenting and sharing the fact that we’re supposedly having a great time. And is that problematic?

Is Social Media Instagram Giving Us Unrealistic Festive Christmas Expectations?Is Social Media Instagram Giving Us Unrealistic Festive Christmas Expectations?Is Social Media Instagram Giving Us Unrealistic Festive Christmas Expectations?

We all live our life online, permanently attached to our phones. We snap and share every element of our day for the enjoyment of others, making decisions of where to go and what to eat based on how ‘sharable’ it will be; the trend for Instagramable coffee shops and cafes is huge, as brands understand the power of driving customers to pink cafes that offer flower adorned lattes. (See my full list of the most Instagramable coffee shops and blogger friendly cafes here!) It seems the Christmas season is no different.

Covent Garden have nailed the festive look this year with their present-adorned car that’s been shared more times than a tweet from Chrissy Teigen. If you’d never heard of Annabel’s in Mayfair before they put their giant tree on the front of their building, you certainly have now. Dalloway Terrace books out weeks in advance and even random fragrance shops with giant bauble displays have had more coverage in the last few weeks than they’ve seen all year, so is the power of social media sharing. We’re under increasing pressure to make our holiday season be the best it can be, visit all of the festive locations and take all the right pictures – rather than actually wrapping up warm, drinking all the cups of tea and fighting our way down the high street armed with more bags than we can carry.

It seems we’re collectively getting swept up in what we *think* Christmas should be, rather than enjoying the realities. It’s so easy to feel like you’re a festive failure if you’re not constantly sharing how great a time you’re having visiting all those Instagram hotspots (and spending a ridiculous amount of money in the process,) or that you haven’t bought all the flashy gifts for your loved ones from the expensive gift guides that suggest a Mulberry purse is a perfectly normal present for your best friend. Is it even Christmas if you haven’t posed by an ice rink or photographed putting the star on top of the tree? Are you doing the season ‘right’ if you’re not wearing your best PJs and holding a hot chocolate with just the right amount of marshmallows on top? It’s utterly exhausting, and to be honest, I’m over it.

Is Social Media Instagram Giving Us Unrealistic Festive Christmas Expectations?Is Social Media Instagram Giving Us Unrealistic Festive Christmas Expectations?Is Social Media Instagram Giving Us Unrealistic Festive Christmas Expectations?

Christmas is about spending time with your loved ones and having the opportunity to show how much you care; it’s about having a few days away from the daily grind and wrapping up on the sofa with a box of chocolates and a cold turkey sandwich; it’s about putting on a rubbish Christmas jumper and enjoying every minute, and making sprouts out to be a delicacy rather than a vegetable that nobody gives the time of day any other month of the year. It’s about goodwill to all men, being thankful for what we have and taking some time out from the madness that precedes it. When was it ever about showing the world how you’re nailing the holiday vibes and having the ‘Best. Time. Ever!’?

Admittedly I’ve felt the pressure to keep my content festive and visit those Instagram hotspots, but to be honest my need to hibernate and spend the majority of December with friends and family away from the capital has far outweighed that. We’ve visited Christmas markets, we’ve popped by the garden centre to check out the trees, we’ve been shopping and to enjoy the lights, but if there’s a photo it’s very much a bi-product – not the focus. I don’t begrudge anyone wanting to get the snap or enjoy those ‘cliched’ activities, but if you’re looking in from outside the influencer bubble please don’t feel the pressure to replicate this ridiculous lifestyle… It’s just unrealistic.

There’s enough pressure on us to have the perfect Christmas already, when realistically it’s a hard time for many. Whether you don’t get on with your family, are dealing with the loss of a loved one or simply know the inevitable arguments about who needs to clear up after dinner are yet to come, it’s rarely the picture-perfect time we’re lead to believe it should be. Once we take a step back and come to terms with the fact that the festive season shouldn’t be a cookie-cutter experience, instead being shaped into what works for each and every one of us, then trying to fit into that Instagram bubble becomes even more ridiculous.

Is Social Media Instagram Giving Us Unrealistic Festive Christmas Expectations?Is Social Media Instagram Giving Us Unrealistic Festive Christmas Expectations?Is Social Media Instagram Giving Us Unrealistic Festive Christmas Expectations?

I’m totally here for pretty lights, beautifully decorated trees and drinking hot chocolate, but when push comes to shove we all know that Winter Wonderland is always better in our heads than in reality – so why do we try to pretend otherwise?

What do you think? Is social media giving us unrealistic festive expectations and ruining the Christmas season?

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10 Comments

  1. Sophie Paget
    December 12, 2018 / 1:57 pm

    You look absolutely beautiful in that beret! x

    • hayleyhalluk
      Author
      December 12, 2018 / 8:38 pm

      Thanks so much Sophie!

  2. December 12, 2018 / 6:43 pm

    Oh my goodness I agree with everything you have said. I hate hi everything seems so staged but I also know I’m guilty of wanting to take the perfect festive photo. My relationship with social media is so troubling and is definitely something I want to work on 2019. B x
    http://www.babblesnbooks.wordpress.com

    • hayleyhalluk
      Author
      December 12, 2018 / 9:12 pm

      I think we all could do with a little re-assess of the way we use social media, and how it impacts on our life. It’s so easy to get swept up in it; I’ve found myself almost going to locations just to get the shot, and I have to stop myself for being ridiculous!

  3. ohhelloitshannah
    December 12, 2018 / 6:52 pm

    I love how real and honest this post is. I think social media in general pressures us to create a false sense of reality. But especially this year I’ve felt pressured to feel extra festive. Whilst I have enjoyed making my room look more festive and have shared a few snaps on Instagram, I sometimes compare myself to other people’s amazing festive content which can be annoying! I think it’s important for everyone to do what suits them and not what they think other people want to see, as realistically I don’t have time/money to go out and take loads of festive photos! I’ll just take them if I feel an opportunity arises, rather than making a special visit to somewhere just for the photo opp xxx

    • hayleyhalluk
      Author
      December 12, 2018 / 9:16 pm

      I think that’s the perfect attitude to have. Some of these places charge £5 for a coffee; I spent £75 on lunch at Dalloway Terrace, which is silly really! It’s not feasible for the majority to do that on a whim, and seeing people do such can lead us to feel awful if we don’t do the same. I’m also bored of seeing the same photos again and again – sometimes being different and more creative is the refreshing change we need to see on our feed!

  4. Kay
    December 13, 2018 / 7:26 am

    Oh so true. I only do Facebook and sometimes it makes me want to smack my friends with their bragging photos and posts driving me mad. x

  5. Sos
    December 16, 2018 / 2:36 pm

    Hayley, this post is so true you have written it brilliantly – everyone should share this with their friends & families to try & keep a grip on reality!

    Remember what your Grandma / Greatgrandma thought about show offs……. don’t let ourselves become one & enjoy the moment!

    Love the photos too Hayley, you look beautiful

    • hayleyhalluk
      Author
      December 17, 2018 / 12:23 pm

      Thanks so much! x

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