Giving Thanks on Social Media

Thanksgiving is one week away. This holiday is awash in complicated feelings, but the core of it is definitely worth celebrating. This is a time to take stock of the year you’ve had and enjoy the simple beauty of having made it through another one. Through all of life’s ups and downs, every life has something to appreciate and be thankful for.

With the endless loop of social comparisons, social media can sometimes make it difficult to practice gratitude. But there are some practices that girls+ can enact to highlight their blessings in little ways online. Introducing this frame of mind won’t correct all of the major design problems with these apps on an algorithmic level, but it’s a good place to start.

Before I go much further, it’s worth mentioning how “gratitude” is used as a rhetorical device in conservative spaces online such as PragerU. In these contexts, “gratitude” is framed as the antithesis of social justice. It’s a deeply cynical perspective that argues that the world cannot be changed, and we simply must resign ourselves to that and appreciate what we have. We at MEDIAGIRLS heartily reject this false dichotomy. Appreciation for what you have and the courage to make things better are not mutually exclusive, and in many ways, they overlap and support each other. Recognizing what you have inspires you to share it with others, and caring for yourself is key to keeping yourself in the fight for what you value. Without further ado, here are MEDIAGIRLS’ tips on how to practice gratitude on social media.

There’s a difference between sharing your joy and performing it.

Social media has a way of making everything into a stage and incentivizing people to present the most unreal version of events for social clout. But at its best, social media is about honest connections with the people in your life. If something genuinely makes you happy, then it absolutely has a place on your feed. In an age where everyone is their own publisher and editor, stop and think about why you are posting something before it arrives online. If it comes from a place of obligation or competition, it may not be worth your while. But if you honestly want to share a positive moment with the world, by all means, go ahead. We at MEDIAGIRLS talk a lot about how social media incentivizes people to hide their complex emotions, but the same principle applies here: don’t be afraid to talk about what’s making you happy.

Keep a private gratitude list and use that to inform your interactions. 

If a relationship with a friend, or relative, or anyone else means a lot to you, there’s no better time than Thanksgiving to tell them that directly. Psychology Today discussed these gratitude messages a few years ago. In the exercise, write down three names of people you love, and then write at least one thing about this person that you are grateful for. Once you have your lift, text or DM the person with a brief sentence about your gratitude for them. Anecdotally, I’ve found that taking a moment to write a gratitude list is a really helpful meditative tool. It helps remind me that I’m not alone, and when I gather the courage to say so directly to the people in question, it brightens both of our days.

Take stock of why you follow certain accounts.

Think of your social media feed as a museum collection, and you are the curator. Everything that enters your feed has been introduced for a purpose. Maybe it makes you laugh, or helps you keep in touch with a loved one, or informs you about something of interest. The account may be there for any reason, but such a reason always exists. Take a bird’s eye view of who you are following, and stop to consider why each account is part of your online life. 

Checking in on why these things are part of your life can help in two major ways: 1.) it gives you a moment to reflect on the things that brighten your day, reminding you to be appreciative of all these people, and 2.) in cases where you can’t find a good reason for an account to stick around, there’s no shame in unfollowing or muting it. Maybe an account used to have a place for you, but not anymore. Maybe your relationship with the person on the other side of said account has evolved. Girls+ and adults alike grow and mature as people, and learning to let go is a key part of that process.

Image Courtesy of Karolina Grabowska on Pexels

In Summary

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the life you have. In spite of all the sturm und drang of life, this holiday posits that being alive is reason enough to see the good in the world. This is not about sweeping the bad under the rug or making a show out of how happy you are in comparison to others. Rather, it is about affirming that life, in this moment, is something special, and worth celebrating with the people we love. This Thanksgiving, emphasize the social part of social media and let the people in your life know what they mean to you.

Katherine Lynch is a student at Emmanuel College in Boston, Mass. She studies Communications and Media with a minor in Marketing. She loves to read, write, and learn about the world, passions she is eager to share with the MEDIAGIRLS community.

Featured Image Courtesy of  Kit Ishimatsu on Unsplash

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