That would be the number of people who posted a greeting on my Facebook wall on my birthday. Take note, six people posted belated birthday greetings the next day.
That would be the number of likes my birthday selfie garnered along with the number of comments.
That would be the number of birthday greetings I received via LinkedIn, six from people I never even met.
To all those who’ve greeted me over the years via social media, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. But here’s a true confession: I am not one to post birthday greetings on someone’s Facebook wall, preferring instead to send a private message or even better, sending a text or calling on the phone.
The thing about Facebook greetings are that they are easy to do… reminders pop up and all you have to do is post Happy Birthday on that person’s wall. If you’re lazy, you can just write HBD or if your lazier still you can LIKE The post of someone that did say happy birthday. (Because a LIKE is equal to posting something yourself right?*wink *wink)
You see, birthdays are a big deal on social media. With every social media channel reminding you about birthdays, it’s hard to forget any dates (or at least, it’s harder to make an excuse about forgetting.)
I started writing this article after my birthday as I reflected on how much birthdays and birthday greetings have changed since Facebook and other social media platforms. Gone are the days of forgetting birthdays and anniversaries. In this day and age when everything can be cause for celebration via Facebook status update or Instagram snapshot, do real milestones like birthdays lose their meaning?
Do you realize that the plot of the John Hughes movie “Sixteen Candles” could never take place in the present day? No one can ever forget your birthday now — not even you, even if you wanted to (especially if you’re getting up there in age, when it feels better to append “-ish” to any number rather than giving your true chronological age.)
But back to Sam (Molly Ringwald) and “Sixteen Candles.” Just think, if they had Facebook back then, her family would’ve hopefully remembered to send her a greeting via Messenger App (assuming they downloaded it, of course) or they would at least have remembered that they forgot! Ted the Geek (Anthony Michael Hall) would’ve been stalking Sam on Facebook and other platforms for sure. And even Long Duk Dong would’ve known a bit about Sam before even meeting her! As for Jake Ryan, he’d still be Jake – I don’t think he’d be on Facebook. Maybe Instagram?
In the end though, when you really think about it, the goal of social media is to connect us all. And while we are digitally interconnected, I fear that we are slowly moving away from true connection – the kind derived from carefully thought out letters, phone conversations and in person dialogue.
Don’t get me wrong, I will always enjoy receiving Facebook birthday greetings and will continue to be grateful for those that post. I am grateful that through social media I am able to greet my friends and family who are far away. But what I’d really like is to have a good ol’ party to celebrate my birthday or my friends’ birthdays. If that’s not possible, let’s connect via email or text or phone call, at least.