Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Facebook has ruined birthdays

I think Facebook birthday reminders are crap.  (Yeah, I said it.)  They have de-humanized birthdays.

What does saying "Happy Birthday" mean to you?  To me, it is a way to acknowledge someone because I care about them.  They mean something to me.  I have written down their birthday on my calendar, and I want to show them that they are important to me.

In my opinion, responding to an automated reminder has the opposite meaning.  It reflects "I saw your birthday is today" or perhaps "Hey all these other people are telling you happy birthday, so I will too."

Is this always the case?  I'm sure it isn't, and that some people are quite sincere in their birthday wishes.  But it rubs me the wrong way, and I abstain from responding to it. 

I will post a birthday wish from time to time for people I'm not going to see in person.  But usually it's someone whose birthday is on my calendar, so I feel ethically okay doing so.

It is, aside from privacy policy issues and how often they jack with the news feed, my least favorite thing about Facebook.


  1. I just wanted to say that if it weren't for some form of automated reminder (not facebook of course) I wouldn't even remember my own.

  2. So I think Facebook has ruined birthdays, but for a different reason. I'm all about putting dates on a calendar and getting a reminder. Otherwise I wouldn't remember half of the birthdays for my family, much less my friends. End of May just doesn't seem to cut it.

    What I think has ruined it is that now 156 people all post on your wall happy birthday. Most of them who truly don't know you, talk to you or even remember who you are except that they got some kind of reminder. Things like that seem to diminish what it means to celebrate your birthday with friends.

  3. I concede the helpfulness of a reminder - however, my point is that to me it makes remembering less meaningful.

    And Xphile, I COMPLETELY agree with your point. To me, they are tied together. If my third cousin twice-removed leaves me a "happy birthday" comment, I know it is because s/he saw the automated reminder. It renders it meaningless to me. (And that is why my birthday is not shared.)

  4. I'm horrible about remembering dates. I don't exactly remember my own wedding anniversary until the week of, to be honest!

    You could call me lazy for not taking the time to write down a date on a calendar or setting up a reminder. Our you could say that if I didn't do this then maybe I don't care enough.

    But it's really not true. I'm just a forgetful person. Maybe that's an excuse.

    And, I want you to know that I do want to remember your birthday, and I've come to ignore Facebook birthday reminds since most of the time I check facebook on the iPhone so don't even see them. However, today, it won't be Facebook that ruins the birthday wish - it'll be your own post from earlier this month.


    So, happy late birthday...I suck as a friend for not remembering...with our without Facebook.

  5. Hahhaha! Well, thanks! I’ll take birthday wishes of any sort from someone who means them.

    There are three of my friends from college who I keep up with through Facebook, and their birthdays are all over the same week (including mine). And every year, I see “great aunt Margaret” and “long lost ex boyfriend” posting comments on their threads and just sort of shake my head. Because I know darn well the rest of the year, they don’t have any interaction besides the occasional “like.”

    I think more than anything I just don’t understand it. But maybe I should just look at the positives more.