• A quick Google search of “Father’s Day and social media” results in a long list of the best Father’s Day social media marketing ideas, Father’s Day posts your fans will love, and Twitter and Instagram tips for Father’s Day.

    It is fair to say that social media feeds on the day will be filled with both organic and paid content to help us celebrate and appreciate fathers and father-figures in a variety of ways.

    It is sound marketing advice to develop, produce and distribute content that captures cultural or social milestones. It’s not a new strategy.

    An online peek back at Father’s Day advertising that hails from the late 1950s surfaced a delightful print ad featuring the work of cartoonist Al Capp – pictured is a muscle-bulging L’iL Abner sporting a pair of Fruit of the Looms.

    In general, I have no objection to the advertiser’s use of holidays and other celebratory dates to get our attention. If you are promoting a product, service or cause, it’s your job to find your customers, clients or fans and let them know about you, and at any given time, most of us can be found online.

    Taking advantage of common rituals of observance to get a message out makes sense.

    Online feeds will also be flooded by sentimental personal posts, and pictures and images of all manner of dads, from those holding tiny babies, their faces smitten with goofy smiles, to those whose faces are blurred in grainy black and white shots from 50s and 60s. Fatherhood is a sacred and distinct state, worth honouring.

    Father’s Day is a Hallmark holiday, not a required sacrament.

    For some of us, especially, these special family days can be tough. Many do not have fathers. I lost my natural father to cancer when I was 25. He was just 49. We lost my stepfather a dozen years ago. Both men are deeply missed.

    As a family, we mark their anniversaries – wedding days, birthdays, the days we lost them – in mostly private ways, with phone calls, little jokes, the occasional toast. We are sensitive to each other, tender.

    Others may come from families that are broken, irreparably. There are those who never knew a father, or who are estranged from, or deeply wounded by patriarchal relationships or systems. Life and family experience is different for all of us.

    The world of the Internet amplifies experience. It provides an opportunity for us to celebrate together in community, and at the same time it can intensify our differences. Our private lives become strangely public in the online environment. It is good to remember that we can govern what we choose to post online, and indeed whether or not we choose to go online at all.

    It’s okay to skip social media for a day or decide to avoid posting or commenting on subjects that are painful.

    Milestones like Father’s Day can be shared in joy and at the same time we can practice empathy and awareness and respect those who may respond differently.

    Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article first appeared in the Maple Ridge News.