THE BLOG
20/12/2013 07:29 GMT | Updated 18/02/2014 05:59 GMT

I'm More Christmassy Than You: The Festive Season on Social Media

How many photographs of Christmas trees have appeared in your Facebook timeline so far this month? How many updates have you seen that mention 'supping on a glass of mulled wine' or 'meandering around a Christmas market'?

Christmas - like all events these days - is played out on social media to such an extent that festivities have become a contest: Post a picture of your Christmas tree and get five points; be in the picture yourself wearing a Santa hat and pulling a cracker and get ten points and a mince pie!

But who are we doing all this for? Does telling the world that we're settling in to watch It's a Wonderful Life, filling our gardens with illuminated Christmas characters and fashioning a scarf out of tinsel (and developing a nasty neck rash in the process) really make it more fun? Or does scoring a 'like' or a retweet for it just confirm to our friends and followers that we're definitely more festive than they are?

Social media can make it very hard to just live in the moment. I had to have a serious word with myself whilst on honeymoon - a holiday that, as you'd hope, none of the friends, ex-colleagues or strangers I chat with, laugh at or just plain stalk online were invited on - when I realised that the only reason I was taking some photographs was because I thought they might get me a LOL or two when I got back. "Damn the retweets and just look at the turtle" I thought, "You've never seen one before; the internet is already full of them!" And Christmas is no different - your own memory will do a much better job of remembering the size of your turkey or the look on your mum's face when she opens that pepper grinder you've bought her than any Instagram filter ever could...and I'm not really sure the web needs to see that anyway.

And it's easy to forget that everything we do share is only ever a snippet of what's really going on. Behind every mug of mulled wine there's a burnt tongue or ungloved hand, for each photograph of girls having festive cocktails there's a 20 minute wait at the bar that was too tedious to mention, and for every turtle spotted swimming about the ocean there's an idiotic squeal of "OH MY GOD, I thought that was a rock!" that everyone would rather forget.

But even though we know all this, it doesn't stop us feeling competitive when the perfectly edited version of the #superawesome time somebody else is having is projected onto our screens. Seeing a chum announce that they're off to their office Christmas party and that they expect to have an UNBELIEVABLE hangover tomorrow is arguably just stating the obvious - I'd have assumed they'd be going to a party at some point and that there would be drink involved (or I'd hope so for their sake) - but the fact that they've posted it online suddenly positions it as a stand-out festive activity. It makes me question why I'm not doing the same, when I'm actually perfectly happy staying in, working my way through a selection box and catching up with Coronation Street alone. #christmaspartyforone

Even Christmas day - what used to be the only 24 hours of the year when you neither saw nor heard from anybody except those you spent the day with - is now documented for all to see through a constant deluge of joy, gluttony and updates on the likelihood of friends falling asleep and/or throwing up after overdoing it at lunchtime.

But just because all this festive projection can be a little annoying, it's not actually doing anybody any harm. It's only really a contest if you allow it to be, and otherwise it's just an amusing way to notice that Christmas trees really don't make for very good photographs.

And perhaps it's not a bad thing that in 10 or 20 years' time we'll be able to look back through our timelines and show people that 2013 really was the year that grown men and women went to Christmas parties wearing jumpers originally designed for five-year-olds.

Without proof I'm not sure anybody would believe us.