When I lived in the UK it was hard to forget that Christmas was coming – from as early as August some shops start selling Christmas products and as Christmas approaches one can get dangerously close to Christmas over-load. Living in Switzerland however it is slightly less “in your face” and feels much more traditional and festive which is lovely.
But what about the online world? When does the festive buzz really kick in? I have noticed that the online presence of Christmas is definitely less “in your face” than the offline UK presence – partially as there are events such as Halloween and Thanksgiving which also hold sway online. Online from December onwards one starts to see the adverts for Christmas gifts, festive food and holiday offers. Timing wise this is perfect – when Christmas hits the stores in London it feels too early and I will tend to put off my shopping until later, but once I start to see the offers online I know it is time to start thinking about gifts.
As per usual the internet offers a wonderful window into a magical festive world full of new opportunities. It also opens up opportunities for people who may traditionally have dreaded Christmas. Everyone understands the frustration of battling through the crowds buying gifts as Christmas approaches but for some people this goes further than frustration. People suffering from a variety of chronic diseases find Christmas particularly challenging. For some the effort required to go to the shops is impossible making gift buying very hard and particularly stressful.
The advent of online shopping opened up a world for people who previously would have relied on carers to go and do their shopping for them. Now you can purchase your gifts without moving from your bed or sofa – for many this now means that they can personally choose gifts and it is a huge relief.
Social media also plays its part. Thanks to social media and customer reviews and input people can now get a better idea around gifts they are considering purchasing. Again for those who find gift buying difficult this is a huge help – now there is a whole world out there providing support and help around these horribly stressful decisions. That support though goes further than just help in making purchase decisions.
One often hears about how stressful Christmas can be – but for some people that stress can be unbearable, for example those suffering from depression or anxiety disorders. Social media is able to provide support not only in reducing the stress of Christmas shopping but also having access, wherever you are, to a support group or network. I myself will be off to India but I know if I have a low day I can go online and get support from my friends and communities that I am part of. Social media means that no matter where you celebrate Christmas, and no matter how you celebrate it, you no longer need to be alone or feel lonely (two very different things!).
And for those that have a stressful family Christmas social media is a great place to vent – while for those who have a wonderful Christmas it is a lovely place to post those happy photos and share the festive joy.