Family. Sometimes we love them, sometimes we… don't love them so much. Even though they may share similar genes, their experiences are unique, and therefore, their attitudes and opinions are also unique... and very different from yours.

For me, when you Vitamix that together with years of childhood memories, a very small pinch of patience, and a heaping cup of craziness (especially around the holidays), it's a recipe for disaster. Okay, maybe not ‘disaster,’ but definitely a lot of tension and probably some hurt feelings along the way. And most of us do it over and over again, whether it’s for a birthday, holiday, or reunion.

"We often treat strangers with more kindness, patience, and respect than our own family."

WhatsApp Conversation With My Cousin

At the end of last year, I was reading a copy of Success Magazine and stumbled across an article titled something along the lines of "How to Survive the Holidays with Your Family.” It was about how to treat them like strangers, with the theory being that we often treat strangers with more kindness, patience, and respect than our own family.

For example, when spending time together, a lot of times our ‘history’ rears its ugly head – how Mom didn't approve of your choices in boyfriends or how Dad often yelled about the house being messy (but then threw his shoes and papers all over the living room as soon as he'd come in from work.) These past events can quickly cast a dark shadow over the joyous times you should be having.

Instead, the article suggested pretending you don't know them, or their history, and simply taking them for who they are as people NOW. Try to get to know them. Ask questions. You might just learn something interesting.

I tried this over the holidays last year and found it was actually easier to give them more ‘space,’ and thus, made me more patient with myself and them. And it was, indeed, a better experience.

"I believe that giving each other a bit more room to communicate how and when we want is actually beneficial to our relationships."

WhatsApp Conversation With My Cousin

So where am I going with all this?

Social media of course! I just want to show some appreciation and gratitude for this incredible communication medium.

I've found that social media has been a great tool to improve my relationships with family and friends. It provides a communication space where there are less reminders of negative history between us, and it allows me to get to know who they are and what they're passionate about now.

It's much easier to be patient now, too. I no longer have to sit through a 2-hour slideshow of trips and pretend to be interested (or awake) the whole time. Instead, I can just quickly flip through an album on Facebook and leave a few comments and ‘reactions.’ It’s a much better experience for me, and as a result, I provide a much more genuine show of support for them.

"I've found that social media has been a great tool to improve my relationships with family and friends."

WhatsApp Conversation With My Cousin

As a kid, I remember, once a month, Mom hand-writing letters to Oma (my grandmother in Germany) and sticking one recent photo of us in the envelope. (Yes, just one – postage to Europe was expensive!) And Oma would get it about 2 weeks later. Almost a month would go by, and then we'd get a letter from Oma with a pic or two of some of her flowering plants.

This archaic ‘snail-mail’ method certainly provided enough ‘time and space’ so as to not feel crowded by each other. Unfortunately, it wasn't very effective at communicating the riveting day-to-day, or even week-to-week, developments of our lives in NJ or my grandmother in Germany. ☺

WhatsApp Conversation With My Cousin

But just this week, my cousin (also in Germany) and I sent pics, emojis, and snarky comments back and forth (for free) over WhatsApp about his adventure in Slovakia. We were both able to communicate when and how we wanted. (You'll notice my exhaustive vocabulary and detailed responses.) No stress… and now just a little more love between us. Thank you social media!

So I say to those who proclaim that social media is driving a superficial wedge between us, I believe that giving each other a bit more room to communicate how and when we want is actually beneficial to our relationships, and ultimately, brings us closer together.

What do you think... does social media bring us closer together or push us further apart? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Dan Littman

Director of Client Experience and All Techy Things

Problem-solving and brainstorming ideas to create valuable experiences are what fuels my fire!
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