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Facebook trend inspires reflection

Communication Studies graduate Rebecca Halgrimson is one of several UCC students participating in the daily Facebook thanksgiving post. One of Halgrimson’s latest posts expressed her thankfulness for her husband Scott.
Photo provided by Rebecca Halgrimson
Communication Studies graduate Rebecca Halgrimson is one of several UCC students participating in the daily Facebook thanksgiving post. One of Halgrimson’s latest posts expressed her thankfulness for her husband Scott.

Several UCC students joined the Facebook trend of counting their blessings during the month of November in honor of Thanksgiving. The trend is to daily post something for which one is thankful.

“I just have to think of something different that I am thankful for every day for 30 days and post each of them as a status on Facebook,” Emilie Smart, a pre-nursing student, said.

People post their “gratistatus” to social media outlets, reaching masses of readers. However, this seemingly positive trend is not without controversy.

The blog “Em Speaks” complains, “It’s stupid.” This author asserts that the Thanksgiving posts are very repetitive, not interesting and “no one else really cares.” She likens it to only being “affectionate to your significant other on Valentine’s Day.”

Not everyone feels this way. Research indicates that being thankful is very good for the human soul.

John Tierney in a New York Times article recently reported on health studies which show that expressing gratitude helps increase your optimism, improves your physical health, makes you feel happier, helps reduce aggression and helps you sleep more soundly. Tierney also quoted Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami who said, ‘“More than other emotion, gratitude is the emotion of friendship.’” 

Facebook offered a challenge to both supporters and opponents of the trend, asking them to comment to this post: “THANKSGIVING TREND: Have you noticed your Facebook friends filling up your news feed with things they’re thankful for this month? Many Facebook users have started posting one thing they are thankful for every day until Thanksgiving. Do these types of posts bother you, or do you like to participate?”

Quite a few responded. One Facebook user said, “This is the first year I’ve participated in it. Of course I’m thankful for the things in my life on a daily basis, but sometimes I’m annoyed and I use FB to vent. So far this month, I’ve refrained from saying a couple negative things.”

Another posted, “If you are seriously ‘annoyed’, ‘bothered’ or ‘hate’ when people post things that they are thankful for.....then you might want to get off Facebook and find a couch and a therapist to talk to.”

And still another Facebook user responded with, “It’s just something that bored housewives do like purse parties or Scentsy....how can you be annoyed at them...let ’em have their fun.”

Either way, the Facebook Thanksgiving trend is still growing. 

“I decided to start doing it because I saw that other people were doing it, and I thought it was a good idea for me to reflect on all the good things in my life,” UCC student Jennifer Pearsall said.

Another student attributed her involvement to her friend. “I just have seen friends do it for the past several years and thought I should do that sometime—but never really had the time for the commitment to put in it. But when I saw Emilie Smart do her first post, I thought I can do it and am willing to put the time and energy in it,” said Rebecca Hallgrimson a former UCC Communications Studies student.

Many posts reflect family connections. Kallista Fletcher, who has also studied at UCC, shared her post: “I have been thankful for my mom, struggles in life, living on God’s green earth, and family and friends,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher believes thankfulness is important for mental health.

“I believe that sometimes we forget about the little things and take them completely for granted. Recognizing what you are thankful for helps you to be more positive in life. You also can make an impact on another’s life by showing how thankful you are,” said Fletcher.

So what is everyone thankful for? “My husband, my sister, Emilie Smart, and my dog Lola,” said Hallgrimson.

Pearsall posted, “The air in my lungs, the rain bcuz we wouldn’t have beautiful green trees without it, my car, the Pell Grant that is paying for my education, the people in my life, food on my table.”

One of Smart’s daily posts added, “The privilege to live my life for God, to have a boyfriend who has encouraged me, for a family that I can be myself with, and for the full financial support I’ve been granted since I started at UCC.”