real life

"Why you won't be getting a Happy Birthday message from me this year."

Don’t expect a ‘happy birthday’ from me this year.

I already know what you’re thinking … here’s another self-absorbed, conceited opinion about nothing.

You’re wrong, and I am serious.

2017 is the year I am giving up wishing people ‘Happy Birthday’ on Facebook. I’m tired of getting the notification saying ‘5 friends have their birthdays today. Wish them all the best.’

How about no, Facebook.

In 2016, I was dishing out ‘Happy Birthdays’ to everyone. Whether I had known you for 10 years or 10 minutes, you were getting a birthday message for me.

It was my way of being polite. I felt better for it. I was delusional enough to think I was bringing a smile to a someone else’s face… even if I didn’t really know what their face looked like.

I was also wrong.

At 7am when I would wake up to be greeted by that incessant birthday notification, I would always oblige. I would try to alter the message slightly in case my friends saw each others’.

They would look a little like this:

Friend #1: “Happy Birthday! Have an amazing day x”
Friend #2: “Have an amazing birthday! Can’t wait to celebrate x”
Friend #3: “Happy Birthday! Can’t wait to see you x”

After a while, it got worse.

I found myself ‘cutting and pasting; “Happy Birthday!! xx” on EVERYONE’s timeline (the extra ‘x’ to mask the fact that I was being terribly discourteous.) It was a quick and easy solution. It was a way to wish them a happy birthday without having to think about it.

Rebecca Sparrow and Robin Bailey discuss the boundaries and etiquette surrounding families and social media. Post continues after audio. 

And that is where it all started.

These messages were fake, manufactured and insensitive.


I would leave these messages with no good intentions or consideration. It was just another task on my to-do list.

Moreover, I would dish out the same line to everybody as if, to me, their friendship was the same and not all that important.

As Facebook has evolved, it’s become less about building a community of friends and more about collecting friends. Most millennials will add their friend’s, uncle’s, hairdresser if it means they could get an extra like on their profile picture.

When it comes to birthday messages, I honestly can’t remember who left me a message and who didn’t. NOT because I am immensely popular and have several thousand friends waiting for my birthday to come around. BUT because they don’t really mean anything, anymore.

How ever many messages you receive on your timeline, they all pretty much look the same and I’m not sitting around on my birthday will a clipboard and checklist marking off who left me a message.

So what do we do when Facebook lacks the ability to accurately represent the intensity of some friendship and the sheer non-existence of others?

We can do a cull and unfriend those who we can’t even remember where we met them. OR, we can stop using Facebook as the only means by which we communicate with friends.

When an actual friend has a birthday this year, instead of leaving a message on their timeline, I’m going to do one of the following things:

– Send them a text message and put some thought into what I want to say

– Call them to wish them a happy birthday and have an actual conversation

– Meet up with them a celebrate over a meal or drinks like a real human being

I apologise to my friends if they do notice a gaping hole in their timeline on their birthday this year, but please know, it’s no you, it’s me.