Sunday, May 31, 2015


For the last 2 years I have faithfully responded to each and every Facebook birthday greeting received. This year I decided I wouldn’t. I like one friend’s somewhat cynical approach to this issue. The day before their birthday they posted: “To all my FB friends who will inevitably wish me happy birthday tomorrow – thanks in advance!” I contemplated changing my settings so my birthday wasn’t visible but of course I forgot.
On the other side of this FB birthday greeting equation I am unequivocal. I resent FB telling me that some friend or colleague is having a birthday. There’s a momentary pang of guilt as I choose to ignore that person’s birthday ie not send them a greeting. And what about all those I do know quite well, and care about, but if it weren’t for FB’s auto notifications, I would never know it was their birthday - what do I do on their birthdays? I usually ignore them too. And there are those who are really close and whose birthdays I probably know without FB’s help. (My mother used to keep a book for such information – it contained nothing more than a list of people’s birthdays that she wanted to acknowledge.) I might contact some of these close friends/family on their birthdays, or if I only remembered because of FB write something like, “FB tells me it’s your birthday…..” I’m just not comfortable claiming credit for remembering someone’s birthday when I actually didn’t! I know – I should probably get over it. Many others obviously have.
And the thing is I love receiving these greetings from around the world for that 24 hour period once a year. It’s a real buzz, even if most of those greetings would not have been sent if FB hadn’t displayed my birthday in your morning newsfeed. So to all those who did send me birthday greetings - thank you! I appreciate it. However, I have 400 + friends on FB apparently, and received about 70 birthday greetings. So what’s with you other 300?? Don’t care enough about me? Too lazy? Or maybe you’re a bit like me and you resent being prodded like a Pavlovian dog and decide you can handle the guilt of ignoring me, or some distant colleague, or long lost family member. You never needed to know my birthday before (nor I yours), and we all got on fine. And there’s the rub with FB. Where’s the limit? We know so much now about other people’s lives that in times past we never knew. And it was fine that we never knew. Wasn’t it?

Anyway, come May 26th 2016 I hope many of you ignore my reservations about all this and wish me well. And happy birthday to you for whenever yours may be :)


Jo said...

I feel much the same as you about being nudged by Facebook that it is someone's birthday and I usually ignore those reminders. If I do want to remember a birthday I note it somewhere - in the past this would nave been probably in the same place I kept the address and phone no. Now it is more likely to be on my online calendar.

My strategy with all of the excess information tends to be that if I would be unlikely to know it or use it if we were face-to-face friends then I ignore it.

Thankfully I don't get many, if any, birthday greetings via Fb - as I keep getting older I want less and less to be reminded! I do have my settings so that my birthday isn't visible and that means if I do get any then the sender probably gets it from elsewhere.

Robyn said...

It's all about filtering I think. All sorts of unwanted info crosses our register each day - and we need to filter it.
IN FB it's up to the individual - to not put up info, or to filter out what you don't want to see (either manually or mentally).
I actually like reminders for people I would want to send a greeting to. I know I'm slack and I should have them all in my calendar but I don't. If I send a greeting its genuine. If I don't the person won't miss it because we're contacts but not THAT close.

I sent you a greeting in FB because I figured you were likely to be OS and not contactable by phone. It was a 'I haven't forgotten you' message to be followed up.

People are very critical about FB and often rightly so. Sometimes complaints are linked to them, as individuals, not filtering their accounts as they could. Sometimes it's valid, data mining stuff. But I see FB as a means to stay connected with people I know and care about, not so much about ME. If it's about ME people (as seen in recent events) people are better off out. If it's about retaining some sense of connection then that's the focus - emails suck and there's not enough hours in a day to chat regularly by phone (which introverts hate anyway).

So I hear you but if you really don't want to hear when a contact is having a birthday turn it off (Settings - notifications - notifications settings - birthdays - OFF)
PS - If I don't hear from you this October, I won't be offended
LOL ;)

deliab said...

Michael, while I love the connections Facebook enables, I do not respond to "Birthday Prompts" for anybody, not even those really close to me. This practice also applies to other forms of communication. I rarely send birthday cards, (I deliberately do not have a Birthday Book and so do not know most birthdays), but I do send e-mails, letters, cards and presents at all sorts of other times, usually in response to a conversation, event or encounter of moment or significance. The exception to sending birthday greetings is to those who would be really sad if I didn't...

Michael said...

Kerry J found this perfectly suitable video -

Graham Wegner said...

Most of my FaceBook timeline is filled with birthday wishes from the last few years because I rarely post anything on FB, but many people I know do. So for them, they probably regularly acknowledge birthdays of their friends but I am too slack to respond to FB's prodding. But I have to admit, FB is good for invites from Kerry J for Edugeek dinners (if I'm still on the invite list any more!)