Woman using mobile phone, whatsapp
Illustrative image. Image Credit: Pixabay

There’s one sure way to bring on migraines, palpitations and back-end-shoulder pains: receiving greetings on social media.

I’m not talking of birthday greetings. Those are always welcome, and the more, the merrier.

No, I’m talking of festive greetings.

The UAE is a lovely place to live in, with its diverse nationalities and cultures, and participating in the rich variety of feasts and festivals is a given. But receiving greetings on social media for all the different festivals — that’s something else!

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Take the recent festival of Diwali for instance. My phone went ballistic with all the greetings, and I’m sure yours did too. Believe you me, some people sent five Diwali greetings to the same group on the same day. Not the same message, but different forwards, all saying the same thing.

It’s bad enough receiving these greetings, which take up all your cyber space. But the worst kind of greetings are the videos! These videos say what a short message can say, but do it in slow, tortuous detail that can take between two to seven minutes or even longer, and finally the words, ‘Happy Diwali’ or ‘Merry Christmas’ appearing at the bottom in glowing lights.

Do the math, dear reader

Now, imagine the scenario when n number of videos are sent over the course of the celebrations. It starts innocuously enough a couple of days earlier, with say two or three videos. Then, it reaches a peak of say ten or fifteen videos a day, before again tapering off. Do the math, dear reader. Do you want to spend hours of your day hunched over a mobile phone, watching in a dazed stupor lamps and candles being lit or virtual firecrackers going off and spelling out the specific greetings, all in slow motion? No wonder we all get up after festivities with a dreadful hangover.

The memes and gifs are equally vile. At least, with videos, you have the option of not opening them if they are repeats, but you can’t do this with memes and gifs. Do you need to see all those bright and garish colours again and again and again? Saying the same thing ad nauseam?

Multiply these videos and memes and gifs multiple times (depending on the number of people in your social media handles) and you’ll know what I mean. You’ll be drowning in a technicolour ocean.

The best greeting I received this time round was one which cheekily said: ‘For the next few days, for all of you, ‘Same to you.’

Same gifs and memes

I wish there was a feature in social media, that stops the same videos to be sent to you once you’ve received it, or the same gifs and memes. This will free people to actually write (or type) out their messages.

In order to safeguard our sanity, I think it best to either send a card or write out a short message on social media (which can be far more personal than a forwarded greeting). If there are many people to send to, there’s always the copy/paste feature we can use. Or else, make a phone call. There can be no warmer way to express your wishes.

Why is it that people bend over backwards, so to speak, in sending these greetings? Is it Covid-related? No, not at all (although it’s nice to blame everything on the pandemic). In my opinion, it’s a mindless habit that’s hard to break. Even if someone does not send me a greeting, I am neither offended nor will I break off my friendship with them. In all honesty, considering the deluge of wishes we receive, I won’t even notice if someone’s is missing.

But I know all this is wishful thinking, telling people to not send greetings. I only implore you, let us find more responsible ways to do so.

Padmini Sankar is a Dubai-based writer and author of ‘The Mother of all Parties.’