Today marks the day that I first drew breath in this beautiful, awful, wonderful, messed-up world of ours. Since I am past the ages where birthdays net you anything important, all I have to look forward to is the cash I'll get from my family and the booze I'll get from my friends. Oh, and all of the birthday wishes on Facebook, of course.
Yes, there is nothing quite like waking up bleary-eyed, dry-mouthed and head-achey to seventy-five (ok, 35) notifications blowing up your Facebook to validate your existence. No matter that only about 5% of those notifications are from people who actually know my birthday - I appreciate it anyways! I know it took at least 15 seconds out of your busy day to log a couple of keystrokes on my behalf, and for that I am grateful.
Honestly, let's take a second to think about how much Facebook has changed "the birthday." Because of Facebook birthday reminders, people are now able to pretend that they actually care about other human beings. It's phenomenal. Ask yourself: How many friends' birthdays do you know, as in know for real? Three? Four?
And good luck trying to throw a surprise party for anyone with Facebook in the mix.
In light of the momentous occasion that is my day of birth, I've decided to compile a do and don't guide to birthday postings and responses. These are general suggestions that you can use when your birthday and your friends' birthdays roll around. Here goes.
Birthday Wall Postings
DO NOT: Wish me "Happy Birthday."
This is incredibly lame. It's basically the equivalent of you telling me that the sun is shining, or I have a piece of something in my teeth. It's a fact, I know that it is indeed my birthday. And it's my birthday, so most likely I'm feeling happier than I am on other days (unless I'm over 40, which I'm not).
INSTEAD: Try the phrases "Happy Brithday, you ______" (something vulgar) or "Happy Birthday, I can't believe we survived that time we _______" Make a joke, be creative. Remember, for most people, the Facebook birthday post is the extent of what they're giving. It is in lieu of a present or a card, so it needs to reflect that you put some thought into it.
DO NOT: Put this monstrosity on my wall -
Or this -
INSTEAD: Please just write something. But if you must visually represent your feelings toward me on my day of birth, go with something like this:
DO NOT: Post anything on my wall that is not birthday related.
Dude, don't ruin my long chain of birthday wishes with something irrelevant and worthless like, "Hey man, I saw your mom in the grocery the other day!"
INSTEAD: Direct Message, Tweet at me, SMS, call me....the possibilities are endless. Just don't mess up my birthday feed, jerk.
DO NOT: Wish me happy birthday on Facebook if I haven't spoken to you in over 5 years.
Seriously, you don't really want to do it - it's a waste of your time. And it feels hollow to me and I really don't care. Save us both some grief and skip the post.
INSTEAD: Write me a real letter. I think something about receiving a handwritten letter would do wonders for rekindling a friendship. Bonus points if you write it in some sort of code.
DO NOT: Wish me happy birthday via a private message.
Unlike irrelevant things, I want your birthday wishes plastered on my wall for the world to see. Why? Because if I don't have enough birthday posts then it looks like I'm uncool and nobody likes me. If only a few people post on my wall, then it looks like I've changed my birthday as a joke to fool people. Then everyone else feels skeptical and afraid to post. It's a big chain reaction that ends up making me look friendless and pitiful.
INSTEAD: Post on my wall! Two, Three, Ten times if you want - I don't care. Make me feel loved, Facebook world.
Birthday Post Responses
Once I've received all of my friends' well wishes, how should I show my appreciation? Personally, I believe that the person celebrating the birthday should be exempt from response. The best way to thank someone for writing some kind or funny words on your wall on your birthday is to return the favor when their birthday rolls around.
But if you must respond, here are some proven ways:
- The all-encompassing thank you - When everything is said and done, simply post a status that generically thanks everyone who wished you happy birthday. Pro: Easy, quick and painless. Con: Feels like a cop-out, disingenuous.
- Respond to every wall post as a comment under the post - Tell each and every person that wished you well on your wall thank you, right under their post. Pro: You get to thank everyone personally, and it looks like you took the time to acknowledge each and every person individually. Plus, each friend will receive a notification alerting them to your response. Con: Well, it will take forever for one. Plus it looks silly to say "thank you" under each and every post, let's face it.
- Thank you posts on your friends' walls - Pro: Looks really genuine. Con: If you do it for everyone, it's going to take up the majority of your day. If you do it for a select few, you single them out as more important to you than everyone else. Drama.
- Post a photo to your wall of you drunk, possibly wearing a ridiculous hat - This has to be the preferred way to respond if you must respond. Everyone will see that you are enjoying your birthday, and hopefully they will be happy for you. Pro: It's a fun, interesting way to acknowledge everyone who posted on your wall. It allows you to say thanks, without actually having to say thanks. Con: You're drunk, and in a stupid hat.
So remember, when birthdays happen on Facebook, we are given a chance to connect in ways we couldn't before the social network existed. But that doesn't mean that we can take it lightly because it's on the internet. Make your birthday posts count or don't even bother. And for God's sake don't post a link to any YouTube video of anyone singing Happy Birthday.
Thanks for listening, I'm going to go have a