butler_cherylShortly after the last note of "Jingle Bells" had faintly drifted away from my favorite 24/7 holiday radio station, it dawned on me that the number of holiday greetings we received this year were down considerably and worse yet, most of the cards we opened did not include those highly anticipated "Holiday Letters".

You know the ones—always written on festive computer stationery laced with poinsettias or jolly old snowmen wearing cozy wool scarves—sets the tone beautifully for what’s to come next—a lot of hot air touting how fabulous the individual or family had just sailed through the past year. (Ok, most of them.)

A typical one reads "Morton received his third MBA from Harvard as well as his pilot’s license while I received the broker of the year award from my real estate firm for the fifth year in a row, despite this challenging economy.  It was a struggle, but our teenaged twins, Bart and Bella were able to graduate with high honors from high school a year early.  Sven, our Major Domo for the past 15 years had to really kick it up a notch by serving extra high-protein hot breakfasts for them every morning so they could excel in both their studies and polo team duties.  How we lived through it, I’ll never know!"    You’ve seen versions similar, I’m sure.

But that’s ok—once a year I think we all deserve to blow our family’s horn a little bit.  As long as we don’t blow out anyone’s ear drums in the process, what’s the harm?  With the written holiday cheer way down, it leads me to believe that either our soft economy is to blame or………or is our infatuation with the internet these days the real culprit?

It all started quite innocently when the computer world was rocked with one of the savviest means of communication ever—e-mail.  What a high it was to log on to your computer and hear those three zippy words "You’ve Got Mail". (Remember the movie?)  After we were hooked, there was no turning back and the journey into the cyber world continued to grow faster than dandelions on a dank summer’s day.

But it didn’t end there.  Socializing on the internet was turned into a multi-million dollar industry with companies like My Space, Twitter and the most popular network worldwide—Facebook.  Facebook is a social networking website that is operated and privately owned. Users can add friends and send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves.  For those who are privacy conscious, this type of social hoopla is probably not for you. I admit, at first, I was skeptical myself, but my how that has changed.

Little by little I started to reconnect with friends from high school, college, my dental days, and with family members that live all across the country, and in the process I’ve met new friends that I absolutely adore.  For those unfamiliar with how it all works, there is a place on your profile page that allows you to post photos and your status (what’s on your mind)—as frequently or as little as you like.  Let me give you some examples:

There is your "random"  status facebooker that will post things as simple as "Tired", "Indigestion", "More snow!", "In laws!", "Mocha Cappuccino" and anything else that sums up in one or two words what is on their mind at that particular moment.

Moving right along we also have the "Play By Play" status facebooker that will log on the moment he awakens and will list everything he’s done, in specific order, from brushing his teeth, to finding a hair in his oatmeal to what time he will be leaving the house to buy anti-fungal cream (and where the itch is), shop for yesterday’s bake and then back home again to drain the puss out of his three-legged cat’s infected ear.  As my kids love to say "TMI"—too much information!

Next up is the "Woe is Me"  facebooker, who will post just how dreadful her life is going to which anyone with a conscience and a beating heart will comment back that things aren’t really that bad and the world really is a better place because she is in it.

One of my favorite status types are the "inspiring" ones.  They will usually post an upbeat or thought provoking quote such as "Don’t ask what your mother can do for you, ask what you can do for your mother!" (Or something on those lines)  Those types of status remarks leave me wanting to be a better individual.

And lastly, there are the "life’s a bowl of cherries" facebookers, which I believe yours truly would fall under.  It took me a few months to get the hang of regularly posting my status, but I soon realized it was pretty neat to share what was going on in my world, as long as I could make it fun.  Though I’m private by nature, there is something very refreshing about sharing the comical trials and tribulations of real family life—no one lives in a perfect world, but why not live in one where we can laugh a little each day.

Greeting cards may be down but that doesn’t mean our friends and family aren’t thinking about us and wondering how we are doing.  Whether you facebook or not, why not be prepared.  The next time someone asks "What’s your status?" what will you say but more importantly how will you say it?

Copyright 2010 Cheryl Butler