Well, Facebook didn’t actually steal Birthdays, more like Hijacked. Similar to if you were on a business trip to Detroit in January, and bad guys hijacked your flight to the Bahamas. Not sure you would complain too much when you land in Nassau and are handed a rum punch and kissed by warm sunshine.
Yes, Facebook definately hijacked my birthday, but I am not sure I am complaining as I would have had no birthday at all if it weren’t for Facebook. Let me explain.
I am old enough to remember the offline birthday. Birthdays with cakes, presents, and surprise visitors. I remember when birthday cards came in the mail. Back in the day when people would go to the drug store and spend 20 minutes in the card aisle to find just the right card that captured the moment, your personality and your relationship – a card that came in a brightly colored envelope that gave you a jolt of birthday excitement when you opened the mailbox.
I remember my phone would ring on that magical birthday. Calls from distant relatives that I really didn’t want to talk, yet I would cheerfully answer the phone and tell them how much I enjoyed hearing from them. My phone would also ring with friends calling to sing an off-key extended version of Happy Birthday which included the ‘Look like a monkey’ lyric. I remember when birthdays were a busy day of friends, family and merriment.
Fast forward, now fully entrenched in the digital world. I spent my entire day looking at my phone, which did not ring once. I checked the mailbox to see that no cards came in the mail. No visitors at my door. No birthday cake. Instead I watched a flood of activity online. All day my phone chirped with recognition of a new Birthday wish. The funny thing is every time I heard a chirp, I got a jolt of Birthday excitement.
Birthdays in the digital world start on the eve of your birthday. At midnight, all the marketing databases are triggered to recognize birthdays. They respond with a flood of birthday coupons and offerings of the discounts for that special day.
Next, Facebook begins notifying all of your friends and followers. Fortunately, my friends responded promptly and began flooding my timeline with wishes of “Happy Birthday” – 237 one line posts of “Happy Birthday.” While some wrote an entire sentence to convey their sentiment “Happy Birthday – Hope you have a great day” others abbreviated to H-Bday, Happy B-day, and even a HB from my cousin.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED every post I received. My point is that’s all you get on your Birthday in the digital age.
My son didn’t even know it was my birthday because he’s not on Facebook, but my mother did. She posted “Hippy Bird-day” followed by my sister who posted “Happy Birthday Sis.” Then a college boyfriend who wrote “From your picture on Facebook, you most definitely do not typify someone of your vintage”
Several colleagues posted “Happy Birthday” from their office down the hall. I was in my office diligently watching their notifications on my phone.
Another 14 people posted photos. It was nice of Facebook to include the photos at the top of the page. These were my Super-Facebook-Friends, the online equivalent of a BFF. Those people like all that I do. I try to follow suit and like all that they do.
I am a bit of a Facebook slut and will “friend” just about anyone, so many birthday-wishers are people I have never met. It’s amazing how I have developed substantial friendships with people solely online. Although, its slightly unbalanced because these online friends think I am super fabulous because I only post the good photos; you know, the photos where I look young, thin and doing something fun & fabulous. They would be shocked if they ever arrived to see the real-unphotoshopped me on a Sunday morning.
At the end of the day, I inspected my timeline and “LIKE”-d each post as a means of confirming receipt and acknowledging appreciation. I was careful not to miss anyone. It was heartwarming to see post from people that I have not physically seen in years and from people I barely knew. They all wanted me to have a “Great B-day” – Seriously, if this was an offline birthday none of them would have shown up at my party to eat cake or spent 20 minutes in CVS picking out the perfect card. But today was just like a Big Birthday party – only in the virtual world. It was a great party where everyone came, and even better there was no party mess to clean up or hang over to suffer through the next day.
So today, I was thankful that Facebook not only remembered my Birthday, but Facebook threw the party. Those magical Facebook people sent out invitations to all my friends and made sure everyone who was important to me was there. It was a great online party. Thank you all…