To My Facebook Friends: An Apology

facebook-556808_640Dear Facebook Friends,

I owe you an apology–all 899 of you.

You see, for the past year, I have not wished one friend a “Happy Birthday” on Facebook. I have not written on anyone’s wall, or posted an emoji in honor of another year passed, even though I would get several reminders from my news feed to do so. I can’t claim I didn’t know. I DID know, and still, I chose to do nothing. The reason? Guilt. I could not, in good conscience, wish certain people a happy birthday, while knowing I would miss other people’s birthdays during the days I did not go on Facebook–oh, yes, there are days I do not go on FB.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I like Facebook. I like feeling connected to the people who comprise my world. I like seeing what childhood friends are up to, even if I haven’t seen them since childhood. I like that the boy who was mean to my wife in grade school complimented her on a photo she was in recently. I like getting friend requests from people who would not invite me to a party in high school. I like seeing your children, your pets, your sunsets (I could do without the food shots, except for @phillyfooddude‘s). But I do not like the feeling I get when wishing some people a happy birthday while completely ignoring others. I do not like the pressure I feel when Facebook reminds me that Dutch and 4 other friends have birthdays today; that Leanne and Jennifer had birthdays two days ago; that I have 27 friends with birthdays this month; that I could send money or a gift to them–all 27 of them… I didn’t even like when Facebook would automatically type the birthday wish for me. All I had to do was click “send a message” and the words would magically appear in the comment box. Yet, the guilt remained.

It was too much. So, I decided to stop the madness. I woke up one day and thought, “I can’t do this. I can’t acknowledge one, or ten or 500, and NOT acknowledge all 899.” It had to be all or nothing. I chose nothing–and that has made all the difference.

I must admit, there were times I was tempted. And I did cheat once or twice by writing a comment underneath other comments that indicated well wishes to the birthday boy/girl. But I could not officially write on someone’s wall. Hell, I can’t manage to send cards– or even a text message– to those who are closest to me. My bar is set so low that I can only make sure I have cards and gifts for my wife, sons, and mother, and I will sign any card my wife sets in front of me. That’s it.

To those of you who have mastered this birthday wishing in our modern world, I salute you. To those of you who have wished me well in the past, I thank you. And to those who have forgotten or ignored my birthday, I understand. I truly do.

Tomorrow is my birthday. I humbly request that you not write on my wall. I won’t even mind if you write on the walls of the seven other people who share my birthday on your Facebook.  I just think it unfair.

Thanks for reading this. Thanks for being my friend. I hope that this year of your life is the best one ever (I used to write that on certain walls:). I’m looking forward to liking your next post, and commenting on occasion. Until then, take good care.

Your friend,

Michael

P.S. Laney and three other friends have birthdays today.

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10 comments

  1. I love/hate how Facebook reminds me of peoples birthdays. If I have that person’s phone number and they are a friend outside of Facebook who I would associate with, I will generally ring up and say “Facebook told me it’s your birthday” and then launch in to a cheesy rendition of “Happy Birthday to You”… This is generally met with much enthusiasm.

    While I can understand your “all or nothing” approach, I truly do not get offended if some people do not put their birthday graffiti on my virtual wall. I am glad I read your blog post before I crawled out of bed to my keyboard this morning… I was very tempted to wish you many happy returns of the day via Facebook.

    Anyway, Michael, I hope you have a FANTASTIC birthday.

    Much love from Australia. xo

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      1. Hahaha. I always say “Facebook told me it’s your birthday” regardless of HOW I communicate with said birthday person. lol. xo I hope you had a great day. xo

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  2. Happy bday ol friend. I always invited you to my parties. And i always came to yours. I think the last one didnt end so well which is why we only see each other on fb! Sorry for that and sorry for wishing you a happy bday even though you told Me not to! 😇😆

    Corinne McAlee

    Limelight Performing Arts, Marketing http://Www.limepac.com 610-864-6152 (c)

    Sent from my iPhone

    Like

  3. I am sooooooooooo with you on this. I intentionally, did not include my date of birth when I registered for FB for a number of reasons. First, was for security reasons … if the crooks have your name and your date of birth, they are two-thirds of the way to stealing your identity. And second, well, why the hell should I? And then when I saw what happened, I was even more convinced that I would not put my date of birth on FB. I believe in the value of “real” birthday wishes and “real” birthday gifts. The ones that involve thought and planning and meaning. The drive-by method of wishing a Happy Birthday that is now the way because of FB? Nah, I don’t need it and I don’t tell people Happy Birthday when I see all of the evidence of people’s birthdays on my FB feed.

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  4. Happy birthday, Michael! I’m writing it here, instead of on your FB wall, so I don’t induce guilt in you (wait, are we even Facebook friends ~ I don’t think so!). Regardless, have a great day, and for the record, I think you have your priorities straight ~ just don’t ever forget your mother or wife’s birthday and you’ll do just fine! 🙂

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  5. I’ve always appreciated those few who remember others’ birthdays so many days in advance that they are able and willing and actually do send well wishes to a person’s real-life letterbox, not simply an inbox or wall via social media. And I’ve often wondered, “How do they do it?”

    I suppose their brains (and perhaps their hearts) just aren’t made from the same stuff or aren’t in quite the same shape as ours, as our attention so easily seems to drifts elsewhere, does it not? I think we’d fare best to just allow our existential attitudes to evolve regarding this matter.

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