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Christmas Gift Guide
Culture

Why Christmas isn't for selfies

For some people, a gadget is all they have at Christmas to make contact with others. It's they who deserve thinking about most.

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At Christmas, gadgets, more than ever, can make the alone feel less so. Speaker Knockerz/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Christmas can't have been invented by capitalists.

If it had been, you'd have a choice of families you could be a member of. Instead, some people will endure a Christmas making tiny talk with relations whom they find dull, mean-spirited or simply incomprehensible.

They should be grateful.

There are those who will spend Christmas alone. There are those who only wish they could be with someone they love. (You can love dull people, you know.)

Instead, they'll be spending the day ruminating, rehashing and perhaps regretting.

They might be alone because of their own bad decisions or life's capricious ways. They might be alone because work has sent them away or otherwise distanced them from those they would rather be with.

They may have fallen out unintentionally with those they love and have no clue how to reverse the consequences. They may have been betrayed and disappeared into a lonely world from which they find it so hard to emerge.

They might simply be so-called difficult people who find the ways of relationships trickier to navigate and more hurtful when they go awry.

Many, on the other hand, will likely be tucking into grub, wearing a silly hat and laughing at Uncle John's antediluvian view of gender politics.

Moreover, because so many have been gripped by the need to be at one with their gadgets all the time, millions of selfies will be taken and, as the modern vernacular has it, shared.

"Shared," of course, means posted to a social network in order to make you look good. "Shared" means: "Look at the great time I'm having. Aren't I just the most fabulous person whom you're grateful to have as a virtual friend?"

"Shared" doesn't mean giving. It means getting.

Try, on this one day, to think of gadgets in a different way. Those who are alone will likely be clutching their phones or tablets close to them, in the hope that someone, somewhere, will think of them just for a moment.

In times before cell phones and tablets, these people would wait by a phone that would never ring. Now, instead of taking your twentieth selfie, why not contact them and offer a touch of love, bury a hatchet or at least let them know that a kind thought has been saved just for them.

Gadgets give you so many options to contact those alone. You can text them, email them or send them a picture (alright, if it has to be a selfie, so be it. But add a message.) You can call them, too. You can FaceTime them or even make a little movie for them. In essence, you can communicate with them, as if they were sitting next to you.

Above all, your gadget gives you the chance -- on this day more than any other -- to make someone feel a little better about the world and their place in it.

Just for a moment, then, think about those who you know will be alone. Suspend a judgment as to why, then pick up your gadget and get through to them.

For them, it won't just be the thought that counts. It'll be the surprise. The surprise that perhaps someone out there loves them more than they believed -- even if that's only a little.

And if you're too far gone down the selfie, selfish road to be retrievable, then at least consider that extending a virtual thought to the lonely might make you feel better about yourself.

Because you know that for all the excitement you project to your "friends," your "tweeps," and your "followers," life can sometimes be a terribly lonely experience.