Today is my birthday, so I deactivated my facebook account for the day. To me, wall posts wishing someone a happy birthday are one of the most depressing and impersonal ways to commemorate the day. Instead of feeling any joy from a facebook birthday wish, I feel sad or disconnected or, at best, strangely curious at why a complete stranger is wishing me a happy birthday.
My big reactions from last year’s happy birthday wall posts:
“Who the hell is that guy?”
This is the reaction from that guy you friended while reading facebook on your phone while at a bar. You were with your friends and having a good time. You went to the bathroom and checked facebook on the toilet. They posted some witty comment on one of your other friend’s posts and you sent a friend request because you knew right then and there they were an awesome, funny person. But then you never read their wall posts or, if you did stumble upon one, it wasn’t as witty as that one comment you read. And now they are wishing you a happy birthday. This birthday message reminds me about the hazards of friending while drunk.
“Oh man, I haven’t talked to her in so long.”
This is the person you have lost touch with after high school. She and you were best buds in theatre or swing choir. You would go to nostalgia if she contacted you out of the blue over the phone or you met up at the class reunion, but the facebook birthday wish you have been receiving wall post after wall post detailing every interaction with her kids or her ex-husband. You realize how people have changed and the lack of mystery in this world. This birthday message reminds you there are no long catching-up conversations any more.
“They couldn’t call or text me instead?”
This is the person you thought you were better friends with than a birthday wish on your facebook wall. They are probably really busy and don’t have time to call you or realize how busy you are and know you don’t have time to talk. You wonder how you and everyone else got so damn busy that there isn’t even time for a five-minute phone conversation. This birthday message reminds you of the hazards of building a career at the expense of keeping in touch with awesome people in your life.
“I need to see to my family more”
This is your brother, sister, mother, father, aunts, uncles, and cousins posting happy birthday. They make you think you need to get back to your home town more often. But then you reflect about the last trip you took and how frustrated you were with certain aspects of your family and how it might be better to have a bit of space. This birthday message reminds you of the mixed bag of feelings you get with family.
“Well that was just weird.”
This is your ex-coworker who was fired for getting toasty at the company holiday party and getting a little too friendly with some of your co-workers. Instead of un-friending them, you blocked them seeing all of your pictures and wall posts. You know that they must know you are purposefully withholding, but they still said happy birthday to you. You wonder if they are reaching out to try and move past their embarrassment or if they are just really dense. This birthday message reminds you of the strange ways people reach out to you on special occasions.