Is it Bad Taste to Share the Christmas Haul?
Merry Christmas! Hope you had an amazing day!
We had a lovely day with both sets of parents and an uncle to join me, the husband and our two girls. The girls got everything they wanted and I always breathe a sigh of relief that we managed to pull it off following another year of reduced circumstances (hurrah for bargain hunting and creativity!)
This year we made a concerted effort to keep away from social media. This was particularly important for our eldest who at nearly 13 is in full teen social media world. She made a conscious decision to stay off Snapchat on Christmas Day, one which I wholeheartedly approve of. Amongst her friendship group (and I’m sure this isn’t isolated to just this group of girls) there is a real element of showmanship and it comes into its own at Christmas. From the early hours of Christmas Day there is a steady flow of ‘haul’ photos showing the world precisely what they received for the big day. It’s part and parcel of our technologically advanced world that we share every second of our waking day but ‘hauls’ in particular always leave a bad taste in my mouth. G’s group of friends all come from reasonably comfortable backgrounds so they get everything they want for Christmas; expensive makeup, iPhones, laptops etc. I don’t begrudge them their gifts, but I just wish they wouldn’t proudly display them, many of them even filmed what they got this year! As a true empath, I worry about other young people who may not receive half as much. They could have been really happy with what they did get, but then to be bombarded with countless ‘haul’ photos and videos will perhaps take the shine off their day and make them feel they haven’t done as well. This leads on to how it makes us feel as parents. In our own personal situation we work really hard to make Christmas a wonderful day for our kids and there is always a bit of deflation when you hear talk of these ‘hauls’ and super expensive presents.
So what makes all of this showing off (because that’s what it is) acceptable and how did it start? Over recent years there has been a growing trend for parents to post photos on Christmas Eve on Facebook (and now Instagram) captioned ‘He’s been’ or ‘Look what Santa has left!’ The photos invariably show a room full of presents. There have even been a few of these featured in the national media, with one particular case of a mum who had bought an excessive amount of presents for her children.
In terms of tween/teen haul photos and videos I think we can lay some of the blame at the door of the young and beautiful YouTubers, the ones who make their living with their picture perfect video diaries which give teens a false view of life. Many of them will have already filmed their Christmas Day ‘haul’ videos which will share in minute detail every single gift that the YouTuber in question has received, amidst squeals of glee and surprise, no doubt.
Sharing the ‘He’s been’ and the ‘haul’ photos seems to have become an additional way of validating ourselves in modern society. We are asking people to look at us and say ‘they must be doing well’ or ‘what great parents they must be’ or ‘what a great daughter or son’. What we expect from posting such photos is for our peers to give us a virtual pat on the back in the way of positive comments and likes, otherwise why would we be posting them in the first place?
I find it all in very poor taste and it does smack of a growing ‘look at me’ culture, (but then that is the nature of social media whether we like it or not!) I worry about the values it is teaching our young people, it fosters a deep seated importance placed on consumerism and ownership of things. It means that we validate our existence based on owning the latest iPhone or expensive makeup palette. Do our young people then start to make judgements on their peers based on ownership and financial means? And do those with ‘more’ move higher up the pecking order in the social group based on their perceived financial worth? That’s the bit that concerns me.
Of course it’s up to the individual how much they spend on their kids, no one is disputing that. But, once you put it up on social media you are inviting the opinion of others in same way as when you post a photo of yourself or share a tit-bit of personal information. My husband suggested that it is the modern day equivalent of our parents visiting relatives at Christmas with an album full of Polaroid photos to share exactly what they had bought us, that would never have happened in the 70s and 80s!
Sadly this is pretty much the modern day version of what happens now and if you express discontent about this you are seen as judgemental and jealous! I care less about what we buy for our kids, but more about the message we are giving them. By all means spoil them to your hearts content but let’s be sensitive about it. Let’s put the emphasis back on the joy of Christmas and the whole experience and not just on the stuff. Let’s raise our kids to value others based not on what they own, but on who they are as an individual. Let’s spend time with our kids and not just money.
What do you think?
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