A Happy Birthday Without Social Media

This year I decided that I did not want to make a big deal about my birthday. It was a milestone birthday that I wasn’t too excited to celebrate. Chronological age is not something that is important to me. I am fit. I am healthy. And it really doesn’t matter how many years ago I arrived on this earth.

I spent my birthday at the beach with my daughter and I was not really interested in checking my phone all day for birthday wishes. I know that most of the wishes from friends are sincere, even though they would not come without Facebook’s reminder. They are certainly more sincere than the birthday emails from my dentist and my insurance agent.

So earlier this week I made my birthday private on Facebook. This way nobody got a reminder about my birthday. I also locked down my Facebook page so nobody could post to my page even if they knew it was my birthday. I treated it like an experiment. Who would contact me on my birthday by means other than Facebook, without a reminder from Facebook?

There are two other factors driving this. The first is that I stopped wishing people happy birthday on Facebook over a year ago. I just didn’t find enough sincerity in it. If I wanted to wish someone happy birthday, even if reminded of the date by Facebook, I did so by text. The other thing influencing this decision is that I have stopped going to Facebook. It is just too big of a time waster for me. Sure, there are pictures I want to see, but there are too many other distractions. Since many of my friends are also in marketing, I do find business relevant posts on Facebook too, but there’s too much chafe and not enough wheat.

So how did my experiment go? It went pretty well. I got a handful of texts and phone calls from close friends and family. I even got a message from a friend from elementary school who remembered my birthday. I did not have to keep checking my phone all day. I could enjoy my time with my daughter. I was not a slave to the red notification dot. I did not need the validation of X number of birthday wishes. I did not need 10% more wishes than last year. I didn’t miss it at all. And I had a happy birthday.

Where do I go from here? I will unlock my page so people can post to it, but I will keep my birthday private. And while I can’t say I won’t go back to Facebook sparingly, if do post something, I will not obsess over my likes and comments. That game is behind me.

Jeffrey L Cohen

Jeffrey L Cohen