Christmas is a time for family. A time for everyone to get together and bask in the collective glow of traditions old and new. Traditions like hiding the remote so Nan can’t put on Mrs Brown’s Boys, and buying things we don’t like for people who don’t need them.
In the UK, many of those traditions are shared, from wrapping sausages in things and drinking Baileys from a shoe, to – akin to a particular J.K. Rowling series – identifying with one of four distinct houses of chocolate.
Roses, Celebrations, Heroes and Quality Streets don our coffee tables, but regardless of which chocolate tribe you’re sorted into there’s one thing we can all agree on – we don’t talk about He Who Must Not Be Named; Lord Fruit & Nut.
This year, festive gift sales are anticipated to reach just shy of £100bn, and we’ll use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper in an attempt to disguise them. Sadly, even that much can’t hide the fact that Gran got a Toblerone from the airport. Again.
But once those triangular presents are opened, the trifle has someone’s handprint in it, and the credits are rolling on the inevitable David Jason sitcom, there’s very little left to complete. You could join the 2590 people who decided to file their online tax returns, scroll mindlessly through Instagram, or perhaps you could just use this precious time to talk to your family. Option B please, we say in unison.
But can we be blamed? Ten years ago, 5% of purchases were made online, and now it’s closer to 18%. Our phones are the closest vehicle for immediate internet access, so is it really that surprising that choose to we spend our family time locked in the downstairs bathroom with Facebook and Tik-Tok for company?
Well, yes, says Mum. “People are on their phones so much now”. But take a step back, Ruth, this is no more correct than it is relative, hun. It’s safe to say that if all our parents’ parents had iPhones back in the day, by now there would surely be dog-filtered artwork hanging in the Natural Portrait gallery.
Website Gizmodo counters this pro-offline argument (coincidence?) by offering 6 reasons why you should stay online this year: “see friends and family”, “track Santa Claus”, “entertain”, “read” and “get a bargain” make their list. And of course, “to capture the memories” tops it off – we all know about “pics or it didn’t happen”.
But this year, MotherZine suspect a secret weapon will be at work to help us switch off from the screens in front of our face and switch back on to the ones at the end of the room. Apple’s ‘Screen Time’ is the new time feature that reveals exactly how long we spend on our phones, and specifically, what apps.
Sometimes we need something to be put in front of our face to see it clearly, and this new development is very much the mirror we need to see this real deal.
It’s not a huge leap to attribute our love for mobiles to the FOMO we have all at one time witnessed. But, why not try and reduce the 85 times the average person checks their phones per day by doing something different over the festive period. You never know, you might actually like the change. Why not have a go at:
Helping to peel the potatoes.
Laughing at your Dad’s jokes.
Trying the Bountys at the bottom of the box.
Having a go at a brussel sprout.
Subsequently binning the brussel sprout.
Posting a hilarious Instagram Story about the plight of trying a brussel sprout.
The truth is, no matter how many of the above you pledge to try, soon it will be December 25th. You’ll have opened your selection box and a turkey will be slowly drying out in the oven. You’ve been at home for five days now. Your snowflake print onesie has become a second skin. And as you look down and ponder whether the real pig-in-blanket is closer to home than you bargained for, it dawns on you – is a little escapism really all that bad?