Now I’m 42.
Not the kind of number that necessarily means something significant other than another year under my belt, another year to celebrate, another candle on the cake. (Although a friend mentioned that 42 is the answer to everything in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, so I think it’s time to read the book.)
On Facebook, of course, birthdays take on a whole new significance. Starting on Monday, the day before my birthday, I got early birthday wishes and a happy birthday from my friend Wayan in Bali, where, to be fair, it was already my birthday.
By 8 o’clock on the big day, I’d already had 50 happy birthday wishes on Facebook, with more adding to the tally every time I checked in. Some were rote HBD wishes, while others had meaningful notes tagged on like I’m honored to know you and I hope it’s a fantastic year! By nightfall, the number was in the hundreds.
Facebook sure does have the power to make one feel loved.
It’s funny because it also has the power to hyper-focus on the other side of the extreme. I know the only times I’ve felt competitive in my career were because I was looking at Facebook boasting by my competitors. I’d grumble about client and money worries, and my husband would quip, “Get off Facebook!”
And in some ways, I am so over Facebook. I mean, who cares who’s going to the bathroom right now or the play-by-play of emotions whether they be from grief or from excitement or from exhilaration. And how many times can we see “11 years ago I gave birth to the most wonderful baby – happy birthday X” or “18 years ago today I married my best friend.”
I don’t mean to be cynical but really? Lately, I’ve felt the most private on the most special days of the year. On my 2nd wedding anniversary with Dan, I didn’t even post a thing about our anniversary. I gave him a card and a hug and said I’m so happy that we found each other and we both went to work. We celebrate privately, on our own.
As it should be.
In this social media era the notion of privacy is certainly threatened. Either we don’t know what it means anymore or we don’t know when to preserve and protect it or people think they can invade it at any time.
Of course, I am grateful for Facebook to know when a friend far away is going through a troublesome time. I can reach out, send a meal or a card, call with a voice that feels like a hug.
I am grateful for the Facebook reminder of birthdays because I have the worst memory. I might not even remember my own siblings big days if it weren’t plastered all over the Internet. (sorry!)
I am so grateful that Facebook has reconnected me with high school friends and camp friends I might have lost forever if not for today’s global interconnectedness.
So Facebook is good and it’s bad. It’s a strange phenomenon, to be sure. But I’m not quitting quite yet.