For the last 2 years I have faithfully responded to each and every Facebook birthday greeting received. This year I decided I wouldn’t. I like one friend’s somewhat cynical approach to this issue. The day before their birthday they posted: “To all my FB friends who will inevitably wish me happy birthday tomorrow – thanks in advance!” I contemplated changing my settings so my birthday wasn’t visible but of course I forgot.
On the other side of this FB birthday greeting equation I am unequivocal. I resent FB telling me that some friend or colleague is having a birthday. There’s a momentary pang of guilt as I choose to ignore that person’s birthday ie not send them a greeting. And what about all those I do know quite well, and care about, but if it weren’t for FB’s auto notifications, I would never know it was their birthday - what do I do on their birthdays? I usually ignore them too. And there are those who are really close and whose birthdays I probably know without FB’s help. (My mother used to keep a book for such information – it contained nothing more than a list of people’s birthdays that she wanted to acknowledge.) I might contact some of these close friends/family on their birthdays, or if I only remembered because of FB write something like, “FB tells me it’s your birthday…..” I’m just not comfortable claiming credit for remembering someone’s birthday when I actually didn’t! I know – I should probably get over it. Many others obviously have.
And the thing is I love receiving these greetings from around the world for that 24 hour period once a year. It’s a real buzz, even if most of those greetings would not have been sent if FB hadn’t displayed my birthday in your morning newsfeed. So to all those who did send me birthday greetings - thank you! I appreciate it. However, I have 400 + friends on FB apparently, and received about 70 birthday greetings. So what’s with you other 300?? Don’t care enough about me? Too lazy? Or maybe you’re a bit like me and you resent being prodded like a Pavlovian dog and decide you can handle the guilt of ignoring me, or some distant colleague, or long lost family member. You never needed to know my birthday before (nor I yours), and we all got on fine. And there’s the rub with FB. Where’s the limit? We know so much now about other people’s lives that in times past we never knew. And it was fine that we never knew. Wasn’t it?
Anyway, come May 26th 2016 I hope many of you ignore my reservations about all this and wish me well. And happy birthday to you for whenever yours may be :)