Within the last week-and-a-half, both my mom and father-in-law have celebrated birthdays. Something else they have in common? Neither is on Facebook. In fact, my dad and Jenny’s mom aren’t, either. This makes them somewhat distinctive (though not unique) in my circle of associates.
(By the way, the preceding sentence is the closest I will ever come to being a mob boss.)
I’m not here to chide them for resisting the Friending Revolution. Quite the opposite, actually. I want to thank them.
Sometime during the days of those two birthdays, I had that momentary, almost automatic reaction of “Crap, I forgot to write on her/his wall” before remembering there was no wall to write on.
What a relief that was.
This Facebook thing is real pressure. Five years ago, the only people you wished happy birthday or expected to hear from on your own were the ones you occasionally saw in real life. Now, there’s no excuse for not knowing when that one girl from ninth-grade biology or the guy who lived down the hall from you when you were sophomores have aged another year.
It’s true that if you don’t know someone that well, the odds of her or him caring that you specifically neglected to be the 37th person to write “happy birthday, __________!” are relatively low. However, I’ll be the first to admit that I do notice the aggregate number of birthday wishes I receive each year on Facebook. And you know what? It’s a little upsetting if it’s too low.
I’m just keeping it real with you.
Maybe this is just me. But the subtext of, say, two Facebook messages on one’s birthday seems to be: “You’re a little less interesting than Farmville.”
By giving us the ability to communicate with anyone anywhere whenever, Facebook has both spawned political revolution and made us accountable for birthday greetings we were never meant to send.
At what cost, Facebook? At what cost?
That’s why I’m so grateful to my parents and my in-laws. Even though they are among the people whose birthdays I do remember and am quite happy to celebrate—including on Facebook, if it were applicable—their absence from it is a welcome reminder of a simpler time, when we couldn’t snub each other by not pressing a “Like” button.
That being said, my birthday is Sept. 10. But don’t worry.
Facebook will remind you.