Social media is an incredible, wonderful tool that can be used to bring people together in a completely unprecedented way. At the click of a mouse and the stroke of a keyboard, you can connect with old friends that were once thought completely lost to time and distance, connect and network for job leads and contacts without ever leaving the house, and share your innermost thoughts with the world. It’s also a place for stupid people to congregate, spew awful opinions, and use incorrect spelling and grammar. Social media: A utopian dream, and misanthrope’s nightmare.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate people. I’m just one of those people that thinks that we’d all be better off if everyone just left each other well enough alone. I’d say 90% of the world’s conflicts are caused by people butting their noses into other peoples’ business. But let’s not get into that. I’m here to talk about the worst kind of Facebook torture I can think of, on par with engagement announcements, ultrasound photos, and those awful ads for T-Shirts with your last name on them: Wishing someone a Happy Birthday.
Every time I log into Facebook and see that little red present icon with someone’s name next to it, a shiver runs down my spine and my stomach sinks into my bowels. That’s when my own personal hell begins: What do I say? Do I say anything at all? Did they wish me a happy birthday last year? Better go check. I can’t find their post, how the hell does Facebook work? Do I say something clever? I’m not good at being clever. Do I say their name, or just “happy birthday man”? How many exclamation points is too many exclamation points? Do I ask how they’ve been? Do I give a shit how they’ve been? How many years has it been since we’ve spoken? Am I putting too much thought into this? Absolutely. Fuck it. I’ll just write it and walk away.
Then, of course, comes the next part: The Response. The ideal response for someone you vaguely know or haven’t talked to in a long time is a comment of “Thank you!” Basically, if I took the time to write a post on your wall, a mere “like” isn’t gonna suffice. Don’t be lazy. But a comment can go too far, if they say “Thank you so much!!! How have you been?” and ask for your whole life story. Because then you kinda have to answer, and if you don’t, you’re a douche. So then you’re getting into a whole thing on a birthday wall post and making plans to reconnect with someone when neither of you have any plans of reconnecting with, and there you go. Just a waste of notifications and hopeful spirits dashed by laziness.
Frankly, if the person is important enough, you’re gonna celebrate their birthday with them anyway, either by buying them copious amounts of beers, sharing some kind of fantastic meal at their favorite restaurant, or giving them an old fashioned. Save the sincerity for real life, and keep the bullshit off Facebook. Or at least leave me out of it.