Photo Credit: pexel
The concept of the Secret Santa – in which people receive random gifts from a “secret” admirer or colleague – has been around for decades. It’s always been a fun concept for schools, families and offices. However, Twitter is giving a new twist to the Secret Santa concept on a truly national level. This year, for the first time ever, New Zealand is experimenting with a nationwide Secret Santa program using Twitter.
How does it work?
The process of organizing such an epic Secret Santa program is actually easier than it sounds. You basically need two key elements – Twitter accounts for everyone involved, and a third party that’s willing to track who’s getting gifts and who’s giving gifts this year. In the case of New Zealand, the national mail carrier – the New Zealand Post – will take on that role.
What the New Zealand Post is doing is setting up a “Santa Storehouse” where it will collect all the gifts being sent. It is asking all participants taking place in the Secret Santa initiative to submit gifts by December 4 – that will give Santa plenty of time to fly to New Zealand and make sure the right people receive the right gifts.
How is Twitter involved in this?
And that’s where Twitter comes into the equation. Once you sign up for #NZSecretSanta, all you have to do is provide your Twitter handle, and you will get matched with a random Twitter user. Your job then is to study that person’s Twitter account to figure out what would make a suitable Secret Santa gift. If the person is always tweeting about sports, for example, you might pick up a gift related to sports.
From there, you send the present to the New Zealand Post, which will forward it on to the Twitter user. (This is key to preserve the privacy of each user’s private mailing address!). The idea is that you must give a gift in order to receive a gift. This solves the problem of someone buying a $10 gift for a fellow Twitter user, and not receiving anything in return.
Social media goes retro
What’s particularly heartwarming about all this is the random anonymity of it all. Social media has taken a lot of heat recently about the role of anonymity, and how it can be used for bullying, hate speech and fake news-mongering.
In contrast, the New Zealand Secret Santa assumes that most Twitter users are actually kindhearted folks who aren’t posting anything particularly obnoxious or hateful in their Twitter feeds. You can think of this as a “retro” social media experiment that harkens back to the day when people didn’t worry about bullies, trolls, or hackers on social media.
And, if all goes according to plan, Santa will be making a lot of gift deliveries this year. The New Zealand Post says that nearly 2,000 Twitter users have signed up to be Secret Santas. That may not be a huge figure in the current era of billion-member social networks like Facebook, but it’s hope that tweeting and the spirit of the holidays go together as well as eggnog and fruit cake.