Sunday, May 10, 2020

Mothers' Day On Social Media

Mothers' Day a million years ago
Today is the American (some say Hallmark) holiday of Mothers' Day. Several of my friends on facebook felt the need to acknowledge that Mothers' Day can be a difficult day for many. The childless, those who have lost children, are estranged from their child, or estranged from their mother, those who have lost their mother...

I get it. It sometimes feels awkward to be happy in the face of others who are suffering over this very issue that we are celebrating. This is one of the reasons why Israel changed its Mothers Day
to Family Day. But this also isn't 100% comfortable. Why shouldn't mothers, in the one job with no days off during the year, have a special day to celebrate their unique role?

When we post photos of a fabulous wedding, do we feel the need to acknowledge singles who are lonely and desperately searching for their soul-mate or secretly wistful over the wedding they never had?

New baby photos, Bar and Bat Mitzva photos, wedding anniversaries. These are all events that will pass some people by and cause them pain.

I once wrote a blog post about how it took me time to work out how to live in my apartment and arrange it comfortably. I received a comment telling me not to be so spoilt as there are many people who would love to be home owners but can't see any way of making that ever happen. It was a fair point but does that mean I can never write anything about how I love my home? I don't believe this. I think I just caught her on a sensitive day.

However, during this lockdown I began to feel funny about people posting their children playing in their gardens or of taking walks in nearby country locations. Even a photo of us enjoying lunch on our balcony seemed like a poke in the eye to all the city folk in flats without any outside space.

I admitted a couple of times that I've enjoyed this time at home with DD. Woops. Sorry sorry sorry. I know there are whole large families in smaller apartments than ours. I know others have lost their jobs and are worried about paying the rent or mortgage, or cannot even pay for food. I know that more than a quarter of a million people have lost loved ones. I know all this. So should I just keep my mouth shut rather than admit that I've enjoyed this extreme slowness of pace?

When I wrote a blog post about amazing things people have done during lockdown, there was a reminder to spare a thought for those who couldn't. I was told that some people were struggling. Gosh it's exhausting to consider the whole of humanity every time you write a comment. And yet, I wasn't being asked to consider the whole of humanity, just those who started in similar situations to myself but are now struggling. But why only them?

In Israel we are in a transitional period in which immediate families are allowed to get together. It means that children and grandchildren can now go to Grandma's house. I saw photos of family gatherings with the grandparents, adult siblings, and cousins all having a whale of a time together. We have no immediate family in Israel and I felt it. For us there is no transitional period, either we can socialise with friends or we're in the same isolation as we've been in for the past two months.

Is it the responsibility of social media not to cause distress in these ways? Every time we post a comment from a position of happiness, good luck, thankfulness, or celebration, should we temper it with an acknowledgement that others don't have what we have? In some ways that's worse. Patronizing even. Should we not post happy things at all? That would make social media a pretty depressing place to be. Unless we took out the social bit altogether and just called it media for information and discussion. 

When we celebrated VE Day on Friday, there was a two minute silence for those who gave their lives to fight for our freedom and for those who lost their lives during that fight. Then we partied without guilt because it happened three generations ago. I wonder if everyone celebrated to the same extent on that first VE Day 75 years ago. I imagine not.

So it's not social media, it's the human experience. Or rather the human experiences. Everyone's experience is different. Some people have truly wretched lives. More often than not life's not fair. We know this and I have no empty platitudes to attempt making it seem otherwise.

I say celebrate at every opportunity. If your child pampers you on Mothers Day, enjoy it and thank him or her with a hug and a smile. If you do Mothers' Day (our family never has) call your mother and tell her personally. Does it mean more if you announce it to your 500 followers and friends on social media? Personally I think not, but if it does, then put it out there. I'm not the social media police, just offering some food for thought.


  1. I am very tired with everyone having to justify a post that somehow expresses something joyful or celebrates something - either a private accomplishment or something like Mother's Day. The world is not perfect - it never will be - and some will always be more fortunate than others - be it in a monetary sense, academic accomplishment, status or family circumstances. Does this mean that we can never celebrate any aspect of our lives without first apologizing left, right and centre?
    I think perhaps what we should be looking at is the way we express things - there is a difference between celebrating, with generosity and appreciation - lording it over someone and boasting is different. Unfortunately some people can no longer see the nuances.
    I completely agree with you Rachel - let's celebrate where we can. I am single, with no children - and sometimes I do regret those facts - I live in a small rental apt. and yes, it would be nice to own a small house with a garden - but I appreciate what I do have, and I don't begrudge others what they have. It is all in the way you look at things.
    Happy Mother's Day!

    1. I agree with you that there is a fine line between being appreciative and bragging. On the other hand - someone who needs to brag on facebook maybe needs people to witness their life in order to boost their self worth. I think a lot of saying how wonderful your kids or partner is could be done personally and in private.
      I keep tweaking this post because people on facebook keep agreeing with me about things I'm not sure I meant. I just wrote what I was feeling and everyone's comments have helped me to clarify what I meant. Meanwhile different people have taken the message they want from it. It's fascinating actually, how that has happened.

  2. It really can be so difficult. I don't think there is anything wrong in sharing pictures of your everyday life and I always try to remember how priviledged I am to live where I live, but I can't be responsible for others life choices. Of course it is wrong to boast about what you have, but most of us are not doing that. Mich x

    1. I agree with you - 90%. I just can't get it out of my head that some people didn't have the opportunity to make life choices. Or they did and they made mistakes, or were dealt bad luck, or started so far back on the social ladder that life's still difficult even with good choices.

    2. I just want to add that in normal times I'd go with a more positive stance but in lockdown you can't do any of the things you might otherwise do to improve your life - even just going to the park or out for a drink with a friend. We're all stuck where we are, even if it's only for a few months. And for some people it's very hard.