Why I've (mostly) stopped wishing people a Happy Birthday on Facebook

This post brought to you by the Love Child of Jaded and Cynical.  The following post on my personal Facebook page got some mixed polarized reactions a while back.

"Anyone get a strange sense of joy when you log into Facebook and find that you don't have a half a dozen friends to wish a happy birthday to on that day? Asking for a friend."

Most of my friends saw the humor but a handful just didn't get it.  I never said I wouldn't or didn't want to wish anyone a happy birthday on FB.  I just was relieving a little of the angst myself and all the friends who liked that status go through every day when they log in and see so many birthdays.

Spoiler alert: I obviously did not come up with this on my own.  I saw a similar MEME months ago and was waiting for a day when FB didn't tell me any of my friends were having a BDay.  That it took almost a month is indicated of what I'm getting at with this post.  Some days I have 5 or more friends with a BDay (#firstworldproblems), and that's just the ones who still have their settings to show they have a BDay.  I tried doing that thing where you wish everyone a happy BDay by tagging them in your status update.  But that seems like a lazy asshat move.

In the pre-internet age, I was terrible at remembering birthdays.  I might remember the month but I certainly could not be counted on to remember the date unless it was within a week of mine or was also a significant major holiday.  Sorry Arbor Day babies.

So I really liked when FB use to tell me my friend's birthdays.  and In my first few years of FB, I did my best to wish someone a happy birthday whenever the giant Zuckerberg Engine told me it was someone’s anniversary of birth.  Then I realize, in no particular order, that:

  • there are some people who never wished me a happy BDay back, or
  • the only contact I have with them on FB is the yearly happy birthday (one person even unfriended me on my birthday -- who does that!)
  • Some days I have 5 or more friends with a BDay, and that's just the ones who still have their settings to show they have a BDay.

I have almost 1000 friends on FB (#firstworldproblems).  This includes friends from high school, college, previous jobs, Marathoners, ChicagoNow bloggers, church peeps, Polish Mafia* and whatever other buckets are left.  This also includes Randos I met once or twice at a party or event and we connected on FB either because it was the thing to do at the time or we are hedging our bets that someday we might need to get in touch with one another.

todays birthdays

Here is a screen shot of the birthdays today.  Of these three people:

1)  The first one is someone I apparently went to high school with, or at the very least attended the same high school.  Back when I first got on FB, no one knew exactly what it would be so I think the thought was to connect with everyone just in case.  L and I do not interact on FB though I think she doesn't post semi-frequently.

2)  This is a random person I met at an event a few years ago.  She's a writer and a blogger and I thought we could connect and collaborate however she doesn't interact back.

3)  This is a guy I meet during speed work one marathon training season a decade ago.  If we run into each other at a race, we chat for a couple minutes but we don't interact on Facebook.

I could unfriend all of these people and there would probably be no love lost.  However, that's not my style.

So now I've given myself permission to stop posting the Token Happy BDay™ on someone's wall or timeline (or whatever they call it next FB revamp).  I still do it for good friends and people I do interact with either IRL or even just online.  The Real Life example would be think of being at the office and it's Sally from Accounting.  I won't go out of my way to swing by Accounting to wish her a happy birthday but if I happen to need to drop something off anyway, I'll walk the extra 10 steps to her desk and say something.  Especially if there is cake.

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