The holidays are upon us, and as the millennial Ebenezer Scrooge, I have some thoughts on our collective online commemorative behavior. It’s hard to know these days if Instagram is for the holidays or if the holidays are for Instagram. Either way, 2019 has felt like the most festive year yet, despite the fact that we have less to celebrate than ever before. Is that the reason? Are we trying to distract ourselves from the looming reality of our planet burning? Or is it what I fear it must be: that we’re all just dumb narcissists.
Every holiday is celebrated on Instagram, no matter how big or small. Whether it’s Siblings Day, the Fourth of July, or Female Filmmaker Friday, each day becomes another invitation to flaunt our self-involvement and show our desperate desire for attention. And it’s guaranteed that if you’ve seen one post, you’ve seen ’em all. If there’s one thing you can count on from the Internet, it’s to make us all the same.
As with most problems, this all started with parents. If you went back 10 years and told all parents that one day their kids would sing their praises to their friends, co-workers, and even to random people they once met at a bar, they wouldn’t believe you. Now, on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, our feeds are clogged with adoring posts. What ever happened to being embarrassed by our parents? We used to make them drop us off a block away from school so no one would even see them. A girl I went to high school with smashed her mom’s windshield because she wouldn’t let her go to Coachella. And what is she up to now? Posting 10 stories every Mother’s Day of her mom looking hot. Only Instagram could turn Mother’s Day and Father’s Day into holidays where everyone tries to make their parents seem fuckable.
My mom gets upset with me for refusing to post the same thing as every other person on my feed: “greatest mom ever,” “partner in crime,” “best friend.” I told her I could make a real post, but she wouldn’t like it. Hey mom happy mother’s day, I can’t lie—you are not my partner in crime. I don’t have a different partner in crime, I usually just commit my crimes, alone. I do have a best friend but that person isn’t you, I’m sorry, but being my mom is enough in my opinion. You’re also not the best mother in the entire world. I don’t know who is, but the chances of it being you out of billions of mothers are slim. It’s fine. I know I’m not the best daughter in the world! So here’s to you, for being just a solid, good mom. I love you anyway.
Halloween gets crazier every year, but this year it felt like celebrities were placed into position for photos, because in no world could they have walked two feet with that mermaid tale, let alone leave the house. People’s costumes this season came complete with video sketches, full-on photo shoots with backdrops, extras, and props. (Kendall Jenner with two white horses?) It was easily the longest Halloween in history. Halloweekend became Halloweek, starting on October 25, and we didn’t see the last of it until November 3, which worked out for those who refuse to wear fewer than three costumes per year.
That brings us to Thanksgiving, which started around November 16 with the first round of Friendsgivings. Friendsgiving, which has taken on such a life of its own that it now feels like a separate holiday, was once for people who couldn’t spend Thanksgiving with their family, like college kids who got stranded on campus because of a storm, or the stray European. Nothing has made me realize how few friends I have more than my 2019 Friendsgiving posts. How is it that I wasn’t invited to one when there were so many? I reached out to one “friend” who hosted a Friendsgiving to express my concerns, and she said, “Well, you have a family, so I assumed you were spending Thanksgiving with them.” Yeah, I am! But not two Saturdays before the actual holiday!
I’m curious to see how everyone on Instagram will outdo the 25 days of Christmas, but I have faith in us. Judging from the past few years, people post more during Christmas than any other time. I believe it’s because things that would normally be too boring to post now seem to have “holiday vibes.” A photo of a dog is no longer just a dog, it’s a holiday dog. A walk with the family is now a lovely holiday stroll. Posting a movie title card would normally be dull, but now it’s cozy and magical. Even my fellow Jews will participate in the Christmas posting. Judging from the past few years, Hanukkah must be less photogenic.
You’ll start to think New Year’s posts will feel refreshing in comparison, but after seeing the 10th inspirational quote about getting rid of toxicity, the 20th fireworks story, and what looks like a social-media competition for who has the sparkliest dress, you would choose Mother’s Week over having to look at all this stuff. And once again, the same privileged people will be in the same three vacation spots, posting the exact same things they did the last four years and hoping you don’t remember. So much for “new year, new me.”
And let’s not forget that the new year somehow seems to require posts of the past year. People rushing to post slides filled with random moments they know would never see the light of day except in this guise. And then there’s everyone’s other favorite, Spotify Wrapped, which reveals the artist and the songs you’ve listened to the most this year. It doesn’t matter that every single person online is posting it. No, you must jump at the opportunity to show off yet another thing that makes you you.
These posts are sure to last us through Valentine’s Day, and with all the self-love nonsense we’ve been seeing in 2019, it’s going to be a crazy one. Therefore, I propose that instead of celebrating Valentine’s Day next year, or the even worse “Galentine’s Day,” we give that holiday to the boomers—they’ll barely post about it, and, besides, Gen Z isn’t having sex and millennials aren’t getting married.
The holidays are meant to be a time spent with loved ones. A time to recharge, reflect, and remove ourselves from the superficiality of the world. And the holidays on Instagram are a time to prove that that is exactly what we’re all doing. Holiday posts of holidays past will continue to blur into a scrapbook that commemorates our lack of original thought. Years will pass like clouds. So, grab your fam and your phone and post and post and post until we’re all dead. Merry Christmas to all!
Cazzie David is an Editor at Large for Air Mail and is based in Los Angeles