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Social media has changed Christmas for the better

PUBLISHED: 13:42 28 December 2016 | UPDATED: 13:42 28 December 2016

Jayne Evans has given Facebook her very own thumbs-up. Picture:  Peter Byrne/PA Wire.

Jayne Evans has given Facebook her very own thumbs-up. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.

How many Christmas parties and outings did you get involved in this year? How many family meals and tree-side gatherings did you take part in? Did you like them all? I did. Thanks to social media.

Facebook is my favourite. I have a closer relationship with my friends and my extended family than I have ever had in my life, because of Facebook.

And I love it.

I have no patience with social media snobs. I feel weary (and probably show it) when people are sniffy about Facebook.

You know the type – those who see themselves as too intellectual or sophisticated to send an emoji.

So you prefer to communicate with a pad of Basildon Bond and your best Parker pen?

Fair enough. But don’t look down your nose at the rest of us, because we are having a ball.

Before social media I would have been in touch with childhood friends, aunts, uncles and cousins via a short December message.

‘Merry Christmas, hope all’s well with you and perhaps catch up in the New Year?’

There just isn’t time in a busy working life to write letters or have long phone calls with everyone who has been part of your personal history, particularly when that’s half a century’s worth.

Now though, thanks to Facebook, I am part of adventures I would never have known had happened.

Big thumbs up emojis when my nieces and my cousins’ children pass exams.

Smiley face with sunglasses when they post photos of their world travels.

I’m not only taking vicarious pleasure in their trips, I am also taking comfort in knowing that they can contact us and we can contact them.

Help may be on the other side of the world, but it is 24/7 and immediate, thanks to social media.

Glass of red wine emoji when I share wry comments on getting older with girlfriends I went to school with.

Skull and cross bones emoji plus much emotional comment when the Brexit and Trump votes came through.

Human beings love to communicate, to show-and-tell, to spread news, to voice their opinions, to share emotions and to exchange useful information.

Social media has given us an unprecedented opportunity to circulate everyday events as they happen.

We have in our hands incredible devices that can be used to share uncensored news and which have changed the world order.

There are many risks, as we all know. Social media bullying and trolling can be deadly.

And as for the President Elect’s tweets....

But the ignorant, the inadequate, the intimidated and the immature will always use whatever tool is at their disposal.

A sharp knife can be used to create a delicious meal that brings pleasure and sustenance.

Or it can be used to maim and kill. It’s not the tool’s fault.

It’s the hands that are holding it that are to blame.

Back to Christmas.

It’s a challenging time of year for those who are bereaved, ill, divorced, single, depressed, lonely, hard-up, old, disabled, isolated, over worked, stressed, suffering abuse, homeless, on duty...

Hang on. That’s the majority of the population. Let’s start again.

Take Christmas. It’s a challenging time of year.

Social media can be used in so many ways to help. Photos and films are shared, Face Time brings absent family and friends to the table, social media campaigns raise awareness of big issues and stop them being swept under the Christmas tree.

Social media reminds us life is not the same for everyone.

Social media saves lives.

Social media is fun.

And boy does it save money on Christmas cards and stamps.

• Jayne Evans is the Events and partnerships manager at The Forum, in Norwich. She is also a former broadcast journalist for the BBC and ITV Anglia.

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