Yesterday was my birthday. For real. (Please do not use that information to steal my identity or something nefarious like that.) I announce this because I love birthdays. I stay up until midnight for my birthday each year just so I can see when I get a year older. I’m a bit of a birthday weirdo like that.
But enough about me and my awesome birthday! I want to write about a real birthday wonder that affects you if you have a Facebook account: that is, the “Happy BirthdayPalooza” that spams up your notifications on your special day. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, just that it is a “thing,” and somebody has to examine it as a cultural phenomenon. For now, that someone is me.
Currently, I have 604 friends on Facebook. I know that isn’t a big number, but still, when 300 or so people wish you a happy birthday, you tend to notice it. Even the most soured curmudgeon ought to feel a little warmth when that many people wish you a grand time on the day you took your first breath.I am sure you have read articles that assert social media are hurting real life relationships. I am here to say that this is hogwash. I know because on my birthday people I have not seen in real life in years, people whom I have probably not thought of in real life for some time, have taken the time to say “Happy Birthday!” No matter how inane I tell myself that this is, no matter how much I try to blow it off like it is just a “thing” people do on Facebook, I still feel cheered by the well-wishing. For real. And it makes me remember those folks. It reminds me of why I befriended them on Facebook—and in real life—in the first place.
So don’t think of the Happy BirthdayPalooza as an inconvenience that ruins your notifications for a day. Don’t fret that your timeline gets uber-spammed up with Happy Birthday wishes, washing away all other timeline glories. Think of it as hundreds of friends and acquaintances wishing you well at the same time, in one voice. It’s like the opposite of the Alderaan Effect: hundreds of souls are simultaneously crying out, wishing you joy on your birthday.
How can that not be a good thing?