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Sending the family memes? It has a name. How ‘pebbling’ shows your love for them

Pebbling is a digital way to connect with loved ones.

We all do it, likely every day. Maybe you forward a meme to a friend that make them laugh out loud. Or you send your sister an old photo you came across. Or you drop a “happy birthday” note on Facebook. These small actions have big meaning. It’s called Pebbling, and the idea comes from a surprise subject… penguins!

Anna Macfarlane shared three ways she considers “pebbling” online.


Pebbling: The art of giving people small, seemingly meaningless items/gifts as a way of showing your love for them.

  1. Small things, often

Consider similar ways we pebble. Little kids bringing small flowers (heads of flowers without stems), sticks. Bringing back candy from a trip. Passing notes in school.

Social media allows us to have another method of staying close and letting people know we love them/think about them.

“This person laughs like you.”

“Her style reminds me of yours.”

“Remember when we used to swim all summer?”

“Let’s make this for our next family dinner.”

It can also connect us with shared humor, belief, and inspiration, especially teens and young adults. This is where many of them are… on social media. It’s a quick mini conversation, one that can be referenced to later.

Over time, little memes, videos, texts—sent consistently—add to the overall connection. The candy, notes, conversations, and meals. Small things, often, create strong bonds.

  1. Appreciate the intention

It’s not everyone’s love language to receive 100 reels in their DMs. Anna’s husband sends her about one to every 50 she sends him, and he rarely checks his DMs to stay “up to date” on all of the QUALITY content she sends him.

Her daughter (who is away at college) sends Anna probably twice as many as she sends back.

Just like we understand everyone has different love languages, understand that people “pebble” differently. Instead of being annoyed that someone sent you 10 videos, see that they’re reaching out and communicating in a way that they show love. Would you yell at a kid for picking some dandelions to give you, or an actual pebble that made them think of you? It’s the intention that matters.

  1. Social Graces (or best practices)

Social media has its own etiquette. Anna teaches about creating content and growing a business or brand using social tools, but there are similar rules for sharing memes and Reels in DMs.

  • Give a Tapback. A heart or laughing face emoji works wonders.
  • A short comment in reply is great. “Cute,” or “love that you thought of me.” Avoid “I’ve already seen this.”
  • If needed, mute your notifications. That way the pebbles collect in your DMs until you’re ready to watch.
  • Try sharing one or two. See how fun it is. Use the paper airplane icon on Instagram and then select an individual to send it to.

Pebbling is FREE! It’s fun and light.

Anna Macfarlane is a marketing expert who coaches companies and brands how to connect with their audience and maximize their social spaces. She is the founder of MARJ MEDIA, as well as popular Instagram accounts @kidsaretheworst, @thingsaretheworst, and @annaistheworst, among other social media accounts and has a fan base of more than 500,000+ internationally & growing.

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