When I woke up this morning, it seemed like just any average day. The floor still squeaked, my shower was still very moist, my dog was still sleeping in a puddle of her own slobber. Nothing seemed special in any way.
Then, I took a second to glance at my phone. What I saw was a list of Facebook comments. All of them said, essentially, the same thing. There was only one thing this could mean.
Today is my birthday.
In the past, birthdays were celebrated with close friends and family. Usually there would be a cake and people would sing a song that, I think we can all admit, is a very terrible song. Any song where exactly half of the lyrics are “happy birthday” should not ever be sung in public, let alone to celebrate something.
After the sugar-loaded carbohydrates were devoured and the awful song had been sung, it was time for presents. This is the order things went in for years and years, with slight variations depending on whether or not people needed a break to tell “old fart” jokes.
Facebook changed all that.
Now people don’t worry about your party. They worry about your profile wall. They must take the time to wish you a happy birthday. They can be people you haven’t seen in five years, people you only remember as “Carl’s friend” or even people you never wanted to talk to again but feel bad ending your virtual friendship. It doesn’t matter. Everyone is obligated to write the same two words on your wall.
Of course, that gets boring. We’re all far too interesting to write the same thing as everyone else. “Happy Birthday” is for slackers. If you’re a real friend, you must come up with a much more creative way of telling a person you’re glad they didn’t die in the last year. It’s a struggle and, according to statistics that I have just made up, leads to the death of thousands of Americans every year.
In fact, you can directly tell how much someone likes you by their Facebook happy birthday wishes. If they only write “Happy Birthday,” they aren’t 100% certain who you are anymore but Facebook told them to talk to you. If there is a “Happy Birthday, Bud/Pal/Chum/Amigo/Friend/Dude/Bro,” they consider you a friend in the same way you consider that one would consider their lawn care guy a friend. The more words tacked on, the better friends you are.
Knowing all of this, I began to peruse my Facebook comments. The whole things seemed so stupid. Why would people I barely know waste their time telling me happy birthday when they could be working or building space shuttles or whatever it is they do? I knew that all day I would be inundated with wall post after wall post until I finally reached a point that I was ready to delete my Facebook entirely. It was infuriating. I didn’t have the time in my day for…
Seven comments. Only seven comments.
Quickly, I refreshed the page. That couldn’t be right. It had been my birthday for hours now and I only had seven comments? And one was from my mom. Everyone knows Facebook comments from your mom don’t really count.
The page reloaded. I sat there, shocked. Still only seven comments.
Was there something I had done to people to deserve this? I mean, don’t get me wrong. The whole Facebook thing is very stupid. I didn’t REALLY care. It was really no big deal.
I refreshed the page again. Same result.
Only 1% of my Facebook friends had said anything. I had apparently become a veritable outcast in virtual society, a type of social networking leper. Maybe it was my breath? I was always careful to brush, so I couldn’t have offended that many people. I never fight with people. If any of my Facebook friends were to ask to borrow a quarter, I would at least pretend to fumble around in my pocket before I pretended to be out of change. All in all, I felt like I was a pretty decent guy.
So why then was I being subjected to this terrible humiliation?
I thought about my options. I could go along with my day and not care about my Facebook popularity. While this would be the rational reaction, I knew that rationality went straight out the window the eighth time I pressed the refresh button.
Maybe I could passive-aggressively remind people it was my birthday. Just a few key status updates like “I can’t wait for cake and presents tonight” or “Man, getting a year older is rough” could switch things around. Of course, if I looked too desperate, I might lose even more of my Facebook friendships.
Another refresh and…
Eight. That’s no so bad. That’s the number Willie Stargell wore for the Pirates. I could do a lot worse than Stargell.
Who am I kidding? Eight is nothing. I was about to throw the computer. I had no use for it now. Clearly the technological world had abandoned me. I could cancel my wi-fi, get rid of all internet related things. It would be simpler life. Maybe I would quit my job and live in the woods.
Finally, I gave up. If people wanted to tell me happy birthday, they would. It wasn’t a dire need of mine. The day wasn’t even half over. I’m sure there would be more to come.
So to those who told me happy birthday, thank you. It is great to know that there are still friends out who care that I have not died since this time a year ago.
To those who did not, that’s fine. Whatever. Just don’t be expecting to hear from me when your birthday rolls around.
That’ll teach them.