Yesterday was one of my best friend’s birthdays. A lot of adults see the term “best friend” as juvenile but I love it. I use the term “best friend” for two of my friends, my best friends.
They know it.
Alycia knows it.
Everyone else knows it.
Since he is my best friend I obviously knew that his birthday was coming. I got him a present and was planning on celebrating with him. I didn’t need Facebook to tell me that it was his birthday in order to wish him a happy birthday.
But, if I had needed Facebook to know it was his birthday, would my well wishes had been less sincere and heartfelt?
I’m actually pretty good at remembering people’s birthdays; it helps that I put a lot of them in my calendar as recurring appointments. However, I have 790 Facebook friends and there’s no way I’m going to remember all of those birthdays or put them into my calendar. So, for the large majority of my Facebook friends, I need Facebook to tell me when to send them my birthday wishes.
But even though Facebook is really good at reminding me of when my Facebook friends celebrate their birthdays, I still don’t say anything.
I never wish somebody a happy birthday on Facebook.
I figure if I wouldn’t wish someone a happy birthday without Facebook then why make the effort with Facebook’s help? That probably makes me a jerk but I want my birthday wishes to take some effort; I want my birthday wishes to be a little more sincere and heartfelt.
The danger with social media is that they give us the ability to spread our relational lives too thin, like butter spread over too much bread (thanks, Bilbo). 10 years ago MySpace was just breaking through. In those nascent days of social media, the relational energy we had was focused on individuals with whom we had face-to-face interactions on a daily basis. Now, with all our various forms of social media, that same relational energy can be directed at hundreds of people via any number of media.
Have I liked enough posts on Facebook today?
Am I up to date on my Twitter feed and have I mentioned everyone I needed to?
Did I tag everyone who is in this Instagram photo?
We can direct so much relational energy to the people “out there” that we don’t have any left for the people “right here”.
And wishing someone happy birthday on Facebook may require a small amount of energy, but I’ve decided that’s energy better saved for those whose birthdays I already know.
Do you wish people a happy birthday on Facebook? Why or why not?