I think the more popular Facebook gets, the more critics want to go after it. It’s become fashionable to denounce the social media site in some circles. But I think the criticism is often overblown. It’s true there have been several privacy lapses. And yes, Mark Zuckerberg was recently spotted clutching a ring and saying, “My Precious!” But that’s nit-picking. For every one of its missteps, Facebook gives us ten new ways of streamlining our lives. They make us see the folly of needing things like stamps. Or human interaction. Perhaps the greatest benefit of Facebook is birthdays. The avalanche of well wishes you receive on your Facebook page is heartwarming. But sometimes it’s hard to decipher what people are really saying.
Here are the top-5 birthday greetings written on Facebook pages and what each one means. For the purposes of illustration, I’m using the name “Bob” in some examples.
1)“Happy Birthday, Bob!”- Congratulations! If you receive this note on your page, it means the person who sent it considers you a close friend. How can you tell? The inclusion of your name indicates this is really personal. And the use of an exclamation point is like getting a hug in cyberspace. The only thing bad about this message is that 90% of people type the same thing so it’s overused. If greetings were computer software, this one would be Microsoft Windows loaded on every machine in existence. Translation: “You’re one of my best friends. I believe friendships require hard work and a heavy time commitment. In honor of this creed, I sacrificed 4 seconds of my time to type this.”
2) “Have a great day, Bob” – Uh-oh. This doesn’t look good. Cracks are starting to form in this Facebook relationship. It’s troubling that the exclamation point has been dropped from this salutation. This probably indicates that you recently pissed off the sender or owe them money. Also, who wants to be charged with having a “great” birthday? That’s a lot of added pressure. Now I have to get up out of bed and rise to “greatness” on my birthday? You know I only excel at being moderately average…some friend you are. Translation: “I vaguely care about you but let’s not get carried away. Your birthday has about as much importance to me as Arbor Day.“
3) “Enjoy your day, buddy!” – “Buddy”?? What am I to you now, a dog? Actually, of all the generic substitutions for my name, “Buddy” isn’t terrible. It could be worse. If they had called me “Champ”, I would begin questioning their mental capacity. If they called me “Sport”, I would de-friend them within seconds. Also, this compliment is usually sent by the same person who used to write “Have a nice summer” in school yearbooks. Translation: “We spent four years working together. During that time, I was sort of forced to celebrate your birthday so this greeting is a habit I have yet to break. Sort of in the same way a shell-shocked veteran winces every time he hears a loud noise.”
4) “Big B-Day Greetings 2 U!” – This strange wish is usually authored by a serial texter who was multitasking. In fact, it’s a good bet that it was written between her ordering a Frappuccino at the speaker and paying for it at the drive up window. But don’t be fooled. You mean just as much to her as the other 1,200 Facebook friends. With this message she is able to show you as much love as an automatic birthday reminder/generator on Facebook can convey. Translation: ” You may have been my 800th friend on Facebook, but you’ll always be no lower than 150th in my heart.“
5) “Congrats!” – Oh, God No. I pity the fool who receives this wish. If I had taped a pen to my dog’s paw and had her walk around on a blank canvass for 10 minutes, she would’ve scribbled something more profound than this. Forget about fully formed sentences…you didn’t even get a fully-formed word! Translation: “I’m not gonna lie…I “friended” you by accident and our relationship is spotty at best. Here’s a few random keystrokes to show my utter indifference to your life.”
© 2012 Pat Hester