The beauty of Facebook is of course it’s prime function – connection. But don’t you sometimes feel like rather than creating a connection between people it more like creates a window into their lives? Even the terminology we use shies away from connection to passive watching (yes creepy) when we say that we “creeped” someone’s profile. Rather than messaging someone to see what they’re up to, we go over to their timeline and just click through their photos. Keeping up on their lives without having to talk. Weird, right?
The one exception to this is the inevitable onslaught of birthday notifications. You get billions! (Unless you have crap friends.) Sure you get the standard “happy birthday” from someone that you don’t know very well, or who doesn’t like you all that much, or only knows you through a friend of a friend, and yet somehow feels obligated to wish you well. Completely impersonal, but still kind of nice. And then you get all the great birthday wishes from people that you know who probably wouldn’t have remembered your birthday without Facebook, but send genuine and awesome messages. I get some really great messages from Hilary’s friends that fall into this category – wishes that my birthday is even more exciting than the premier of The Bachelorette (thanks Ed! It was, but only slightly) messages in ALL CAPS (I feel the enthusiasm, Heather!) and messages of hope that my extreme and unnecessary birthday fervour never wanes (Thanks Emmel and Nicole, I hope this too.) In this one instance, Facebook actually becomes a tool of communication and connectedness, prompting friends across the country/world (depending on how famous you are. I am not.) to wish you a happy birthday.
And yeah, all those messages aren’t quite like getting flowers sent to you from your bestie that lives in Ottawa, or a hand-painted card from your aunt, or your colleagues decorating your cubicle, or friends who come over and eat cupcakes all night with you, or your family meeting you for a birthday picnic. They’re not tangible, or active. But they’re immediate which makes them extremely excellent.
As Florence Welsh says, “A Kiss with a Fist is better than none.” ( I don’t endorse that sentiment AT ALL; it’s a metaphor people. And a great song.)