So one of the things that I have done now for a while now is stopped saying happy birthday on Myface… err… Facebook. So what i mean by that is… I’m not being an arse by not saying happy birthday to you on your special day, however, I feel it needed to actually be said in person to have much more of an impact. Now before I get to deep into this I must address the points I wanted to make in this blog:
1) How have we allowed ourselves to become distant with our friends over social media sites?
2) Is a person any less of a friend if they do not wish you a happy birthday on said social media site?
3) Do people even care?
3 is a bit more harsh than 1 & 2 but it has me wondering just what exactly we’re saying. Anyways… My personal reasons behind not saying happy birthday is simply because I feel like a jerk if I don’t actually say that to a person in person. By that, I also have been thinking really hard about who I have listed as friends on my social networks and conversely, why they have me on their social networks. The fundamental principle seems to be voyeurism of which allows us to peer into the thoughts and minds (albeit incomplete) of another person. Another thing that ups the ante is pictures. The old cliche that a picture is worth a 1,000 words? Seemingly we are increasingly growing our communication channels by pictures and sights, not words. So what does saying happy birthday on a media site mean to you?
To the second point, am I, Aaron Hockett any less of a friend to any of my friends by not poking, tweeting, commenting or giving you the thumbs up by liking something you’ve posted? There have been some recent studies of narcissistic behavior in using these social sites. One them (link to the PDF here ) dates back to 2008 in a time just before Facebook really started to take off after Myspace.com numbers started to dwindle. In that study, people were found to be self-promoters. The more recent studies (study up in Toronto here at York University) tend to show the side of ourselves in which to say… we’re probably least proud of? So regardless of how many status updates you have, how many friends you have, why someone hasn’t responded to a facebook message or whatever, what is the difference if someone doesn’t wish you a happy birthday?
Now the flip side of this of course is positive re-enforcement and a level of acknowledgement in which I get and for those who do, keep on doing… but perhaps like we all realize from time to time… asking ourselves why we do it instead of just doing it.
To the last point… does anyone care? One of the things I’ve talked about with some friends (because I do have a morbid sense of humor sometimes) is ensuring that my Twitter account keeps on tweeting after I pass away. Not sure if I need to arrange in my will who will manage my account and make sure everything is auto-mated but isn’t that kind of weird to think about? Aaron’s facebook page and twitter account getting updates after I’m physically gone. Aside from that being absurd (which is why I love it) it begs the question I brought up in the beginning. What is it we offer to each other and what do we give in return? Is there a line in which we say enough or stop caring what people respond to? Who knows. Makes me wonder who is watching… and on the flip side… who is listening.
Until next time.