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Worldwide Ace » Getting a Little Facebook Time

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Getting a Little Facebook Time

3 December, 2008 (13:17) | New Media

A few days ago it was Dixie’s birthday. I texted her (from my brand spanking new cell phone) and wished her a happy one, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It was easy enough, taking not more than 10 minutes, and I’m sure it was a good thing to do.

And then it hit me. If it weren’t for Semagic, my LiveJournal client, I wouldn’t have remembered her birthday at all.

I’m terrible at remembering dates. In the last five years, I’ve finally narrowed my mom and sister’s birthday (they share a day) down from simply the month of January to an actual day. My father and I are both born on holidays, making that easy. Everyone else, I simply forget.

I don’t do it maliciously. Hell, in the last few years, I’ve reached an age where I’ve started forgetting how old I am. Sure, I’m within a year or two when I answer the question, but birthdays simply don’t have the same meaning they did when I was a child. There are no major changes year to year that require a birthday to measure. What grade I’m in lost all meaning mid way through college, as did maturity level, which most people should realize has nothing to do with age. These days how old I am only matters in regards to dating if it feels like I’m robbing cradles or taking advantage of AARP members, neither of which have happened to me. Even in medicine, it’s a reasonably arbitrary guideline through which to judge health.

Simply put, age is an unnecessary measurement at this point, and because of that, birthdays have become unnecessary as well.

Just because I feel this way, however, doesn’t mean everyone does. A lot of people value their birthday, spending it out drinking with friends or celebrating with loved ones. But among people my age, the new tradition is so minimal and lacking that it completely turns me off: the Facebook wall birthday.

I’ve never been a fan of social networking sites. Sure, I use IM and IRC and blogs and keep a website or two, but Facebook and MySpace and Friendster just don’t appeal to me. They lack the face to face contact that’s necessary to truly have a relationship with people. They’re great to keep in touch, but more and more social networking seems to be replacing actual contact. I know I’m not the only one who thinks that.

A few things I do like about Facebook, the lone social networking site I belong to (excluding blogs and forums, since I don’t consider them social networking), are the ease of getting updated contact info, the ease of sharing photos and links, and the birthday reminders. Being the forgetful ass that I am, having those there is invaluable for the people I care about. When I hop on to update my contact info or check up on a friend, there are the upcoming birthdays for the week. Given how often I’m on Facebook, that’s actually a rarity, but it’s nice that it’s there.

There is the dark side, however. Many seem to think that noticing this note and posting to a wall is a viable birthday memento. I do not.

Remember when your parents would tell you that it doesn’t matter the value of the gift, it’s the thought that counts? Well noticing a birthday and posting “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!1!” to a wall is no thought at all. It’s a reminder. It’s a clinical and detached function of the digital age. At least taking the time to send a text or give a phone call or drop an email indicates that the person is worth more than 10 seconds of automated response. And even then, if I weren’t the forgetful last minute bastard that I am, I wouldn’t consider those worthwhile either.

Perhaps I’m a hypocrite. I absolutely despise the lack of effort required to show how much someone means to me, yet I take full advantage of it.

I guess the conclusion I should come to is that I need to do a better job of reminding my friends how much they mean to me. After all, even Facebook knows that’s what it’s all about in the end.