My birthday started as usual. My mom, who lives on the East Coast, called me at 6am PST. After the annual ritual of listening to her sing a verse of “Happy Birthday” and me saying, “I had to get up to answer the phone anyway” – my dad’s line, I checked Facebook.
Had anyone wished me Happy Birthday? No. So, I went to WhatsApp to see who of my friends had wished me a Happy Birthday. None
After breakfast, I noticed my wife had sent me a sweet note of Facebook for my birthday. I ‘Loved’ it. Is an emoji enough of a reply to the public display of affection?
More birthday messages started to come in on Facebook. I started to read in to the comments and the emoticons. Who Loved? Who “only” Liked? Who commented? What would be a good number for the day to validate me?
On WhatsApp my group of college buddies started to write me birthday notes. My mind focused on who would acknowledge me. Others piped in about my age – this or that? “Hmm, what does that mean?”
On Facebook Messenger, I got a message, “Hey, John, is it your birthday?” “Yes,” I replied, without saying thanks. “Happy Birthday!” came soon and I did reply with, “Thanks!” I wondered if anyone else would DM me on Messenger, no, but one came in on WhatsApp.
Later, I felt compelled to acknowledge the Facebook commenters – they put in the effort to go beyond the Like. So, I tried different emoji’s for acknowledgement. But emoji’s are loaded! Is a heart ‘love’ or “Love?” Is only a Like a dismissal? What would my “Friends” think?
Meanwhile my small IRL (in real life) birthday get-together included lots of looking at phones pondering the deeper meaning of messages on Facebook. What’s App, and Messenger.
I went to bed sad and woke up and deleted Facebook as a start, hoping to have a better year.