I celebrated my 24th birthday Sunday (Saturday night, really) amid a festival of food, friends and appropriate beverages. To my friends' annoyance, however, I kept having to reach for my cell phone to acknowledge a flood of incoming text messages Sunday.
There were a few friends who directly sent text messages of well wishes. A few other messages inquired as to dinner plans. These were not the messages that had my CNN theme ringtone from sounding every 5 minutes, however.
I subscribe to a few text message alert services, namely Facebook, CNN and Emergency.org. It's a manageable amount of disruption on any given day. I normally remember to disable Facebook text message alerts the day before my birthday as Wall post traffic is heavier than most days. I still recall having to continually silence my phone in the middle of work (a day camp) during the first birthday the text service was enabled.
I neglected that disablement this year, and was subjected to a day of continual pocket vibrations and noises. The thoughts are flattering; I'm not complaining at all. That said, this phenomenon poses some questions worthy of reflection.
Would many of these people say anything to me if they hadn't seen my notification on Facebook? Certainly not. There were a handful of names I haven't talked to in months. It's great to hear from these people, but it's only by chance I did. After all, had they not looked at their reminder/birthday section they likely wouldn't have even known. I have only five or six birthday reminders in my Google Calendar. These are close friends and family members. Most of these dates I already have hard-wired in my brain. Every other birthday I expect to hear about via word of mouth or from Facebook. Not only does this make me lazy, but also a somewhat horrible friend!
The entire day I received only one phone call, from a freshman-year friend. (I'm not complaining, really, it was a rough day of recovery.) Point is: Our culture is now complacent in sending/receiving well wishes not even by direct message, but from a public display of graffiti we call our Facebook walls. We don't even consider cards unless it's a wedding.
Logging on to Facebook late Sunday night, I finally had a chance to see a collective view of my friends' love. Some 80+ notifications later, I'm feeling quite loved despite a lack of cards and calls, even if most messages just read "Happy Birthday."
Hey - it's the thought that counts.