Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has declared June 30 “Social Media Day.” The proclamation declares the day as one for “partnering with locally owned businesses,” and states that the goal is for businesses and the community to connect “offline, in a face-to-face setting.” Aside from the fact that encouraging people to meet offline sounds more like Anti-Social Media Day (like celebrating a “TV Day” by encouraging people to turn off their sets), I wonder why we need to recognize it at all.
Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate Facebook, Twitter and Google+, but I don’t think we need a state-sanctioned day to celebrate them. Ironically, the official endorsement cheapens the day. I love silly secular holidays, from “National Mustard Day” (the first Saturday in August) to “What If Cats and Dogs Had Opposable Thumbs Day” (March 3). My favorite is “International Talk Like a Pirate Day” (Sept. 19), which started as an inside joke between two friends and was later popularized by humorist Dave Barry. However, these non-holiday holidays work precisely because they are irreverently unofficial.
I appreciated when Mashable created Social Media Day in 2010, and I didn’t mind it too much when Las Vegas officially endorsed the day last year. But now it’s becoming too official. What next, a national holiday so schools can close and students can catch up on their Facebook postings?
The more official a “holiday” is, the more commercial it becomes, with some eventually evolving into so-called “Hallmark Holidays.” (That term is actually a misnomer, since Hallmark has never actually created a holiday—although the company admits on its website that it wishes it could.)
Holiday commercialization has even spawned an anti-holiday in protest: Festivus (Dec. 23) was created as a semi-joke in 1966 for people frustrated with the commercialism of other winter holidays. Fittingly, Festivus became widely popular only after it was featured on an episode of Seinfeld.
Apparently even an anti-commercial day needs to be promoted on commercial media to become popular. So maybe it’s fitting that we now have an official day to celebrate this most unofficial form of media.