As any of my Facebook Friends can tell you, today I’m putting the wraps on my 27th trip around the sun. As a result, my virtual wall has been virtually covered by virtual birthday wishes.

It’s all somewhat strange for me.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the well wishery, because I do, but I find it all amusing somehow. Back in my university days my birthday fell right in the midst of exam season; my friends and I would usually arrange some sort of shindig but it was as much about my friends blowing off steam and having a night on the town as it was about my birthday.

Since then, I’ve taken a markedly more subdued approach to all things birthday. I’m not one of those people who makes a big deal about not making a big deal of it; I’m not actively trying to downplay the day.  But I’m happy to spend a quiet evening reflecting on things with loved ones. I figure I’m terrible at remembering birthdays so I’m not going to get bent out of shape if people remember mine either way – and usually, my birthday goes by mostly unnoticed outside my closest circle of friends and family.

Enter Facebook.

Now friends I haven’t even so much as e-mailed in 10 or 15 years are wishing me a happy birthday. It’s all me, me, me. And I’m really not sure how to feel about that. The cynic in me is tempted to scoff “hrmph, nice of them to take three seconds to bash out a message when Facebook tells them it’s my birthday” but the softie in me is touched, thinking “it’s nice of them to take three seconds to bash out a message when Facebook tells them it’s my birthday.”

Does the ease with which these people can send me greetings cheapen the sentiment? Or should I just send the inner cynic to the store for milk and enjoy being the centre of virtual attention?

Ah the joys of aging in the iAge.

1 comment

  1. Well Joe,

    Firstly happy b-day I love you regardless of your age, although once you hit 30 I’m sorry but um …. dead to me.

    I had a pretty weird facebook experience last week that I have been wanting to discuss, so excuse me while I hijack your blog.

    I had the unfortunate duty last week of having to write a obit for a local woman. She was 19 years old and was killed in a traffic accident on her way to Fort Mac. The highways up to boomtown Alberta haven’t, like many things, kept up with the runaway growth. They are crowded and dangerous and deaths like hers have become all too common.

    Writing an obit, of which I have had to do a grand total of two in my entire career, is something I loathe to do. I rationalize it away and feel right about doing it in the end, but I still end up feeling like the worst person in the world.

    With that in mind, I called a family representative and was put in touch with the young woman’s father. After a lengthy interview I had everything I needed, but the father was clearly struggling to talk about the kind of person his daughter was, he repeated himself a lot and struggled to put words together, which was entirely understandable.

    He suggested I check out her facebook page and the facebook group that was made in her memory. People were posting on the groups wall and telling stories about her, but many of them admitted to not having spoken to her in months or even years.

    As much as a social networking site like facebook supposedly brings you closer toghether I was left wondering if it somehow took the edge out of emotional situations. Obviously, a funeral and a birthday are different, but it seemed odd to me that in both cases people are connecting to one another without any real emotional investment.

    I am sure everyone who expressed their condolences or related their memories was sincere in expressing their emotions, but I was left wondering how many would be attending the service or sending a card.

    I am wondering if facebook allows you to have more “friends” because you only have to be virtual friends.

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