Service of Boasting: Have Facebook & Instagram Postings Replaced Holiday Letters?

July 11th, 2022

Categories: Internet, Love, Passion, Social Media, TMI

“The only happy family is the one smiling in photos”– Polish proverb according to an acquaintance. 

A friend once told me how much she disliked the missives inserted in holiday cards. I referred to them as Harvard/Goldman Sachs newsletters. The writers would regale the reader with the year’s highlights that touched on the kids–all of whom were accepted early admission to the Ivy League–and the adults’ professional successes, vacations in St. Barts, Mustique–you get my drift.

The emphasis was on accomplishment not emotion-sharing. It wasn’t a competition about who loves others the most. That’s what has changed.

Since we’ve moved off the page onto the Internet, we’ve not lost the opportunity to boast and we’ve added a lot of declarations of LO V E. I noticed this happening long before social media when people ended every conversation with “Love ya.” It became automatic like “God bless you” when someone sneezes. It took the zest out of the love word.

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Caitlin Macy wrote a pithy piece in the Wall Street JournalThe Age of Emotional Overstatement–From social media to job applications, the pressure to declare our feelings in public is turning us into gushing adolescents.” She showed “emotional stinginess” when she’d post on social media “HBD! Whoohoo!” to acknowledge her child’s birthday.

By comparison, she wrote “today’s parent has only just begun her tribute to the sunshine golden star-child who grew into the brilliant, gorgeous, side-splittingly funny, preternaturally gifted athlete (‘Go, Big Blue!’), not to mention the kindest person upon this earth as well as the head of the yearbook committee, who is loved ‘to the moon and infinity and back and to infinity again and to whatever lies beyond infinity…’”

What is part of college applications today? “Tell us about your passion,” Macy reported. She points a finger at companies as well from whom, she observed, you want competence: “…. a corporation bragging about its passion for the service it’s providing suggests unstable—maybe even unhinged—leadership: Passion by its very nature is short-lived. It flames, and then, presumably, the fire in the loins for supply-chain optimization goes out.”

She wrote: “When Tevye sings to his wife Golde, in the musical ‘Fiddler on the Roof, ‘ ‘Do you love me?’—a question, by the way, that they’ve never discussed—Golde doesn’t say anything about the moon or infinity. No, she replies by listing the work she’s done: ‘For 25 years I’ve washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house…If that isn’t love, what is?'”

Macy observed that today we are more effusive but wonders if we are more loving? “There is something about today’s emotional exhibitionism that makes one long for a more restrained time—whether real or fictional—when love came up in conversation once every 25 years or so. As the great works make clear, the act of discretion around intimate relationships is how one honors these relationships. You explicitly don’t put on a PDA parade because they’re too important—too deep, too private.” {FYI: PDA=public display of affection.}

She posits: “I can’t seem to lose the feeling that it’s all a crock. Perhaps if we weren’t so quick to love, we’d be slower to hate as well.”

I’m with Golde. People who show their love quietly, in actions, count most to me although, like Macy, I’ve also sprinkled around many a heart emoji in response to Facebook postings. The ebullient year-end newsletter writers no longer send cards but do you see a relationship between their missives and year ’round over-the-top social media postings, weighted down by an abundance of saccharine expressions of love?

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6 Responses to “Service of Boasting: Have Facebook & Instagram Postings Replaced Holiday Letters?”

  1. ASK Said:

    My mother’s favorite cliché: Actions speak louder than words.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I agree with your mom. I sometimes wonder whether passionate public declarations are also said between the individuals.

  3. lucrezia Said:

    Hating is a huge waste of time which usually causes greater grief to the hater. Love is misdirected and misunderstood more often than not, so finding reasons to like and respect others works best for me.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Moderation safest and most sensible.

  5. Martha Takayama Said:

    I really never liked bragging and in particular whether about children, grandchildren, social standing, finances., or holiday seasonal gushing, hyperbolic mailings! Iam an enthusiastic person and truly enjoy hearing good news about friends and family or even good news in general. At this point intime after being inundated with, bragging, over the top flashes about everyone from the personal to the public, I am truly alienated by bragging. I never understood the navel-contemplating text on Facebook in its earlier years. I still don’t understand the need for sharing of information not really of interest to or suitable for anybody or everybody. I am in favor of understatement and a tad of modesty. I do use love and hearts, emojis but try not to wear them out.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Modesty is gone in dress and personal information sharing in public venues. Quite extraordinary!

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