Just this morning Facebook sent me a reminder that it was one of my “friend’s” birthday and that I should send a message. I admit, as of late, I do so reflexively occasionally mixing up the birthday message by a word or two. I hated the birthday Facebook feature at first and grew to appreciate it. It takes a second to wish a happy birthday and it may add to a person’s joy. Thus, why not?
I assume most people know the messages are fairly automated or done at a below consciousness level by a so-called friend. I also assume most people don’t care if the wish is genuine or not. At the end of the day they get to thank all the countless people that wished them a great birthday. Its social media icing on the cake. If we didn’t want the wishes we could not put our birthdays and we could not accept postings on our page. I must say I have encountered a few of those and I wondered why they turned off that feature especially when they themselves posted a birthday cake photo of theirs. There definitely can be a whole Academic psychology department dedicated to the ego and social media. I’ll share with you that many graduate programs have stopped focusing on personality psychology. Now, though, social media has put the multiple back on personality. Ah, bad psychology joke. I will move on.
While I have come to accept Facebook’s birthday reminder, I have come to accept it only for the living. When a dead friend’s photo pops up, I, of course, get saddened. Then I get even more sad when I see people (other “friends”) posting birthday wishes seemingly unknowing of the person’s death. I want to let the person know, but I fight off that urge. Today’s situation was particularly sad as I saw the mother of the young man I knew (who died of cancer before 30) thank people for their birthday wishes. As a mother it tears me apart to feel her pain. I understand that some keep the Facebook account open, but for how long? Is it our new collective cemetery?
My mentor who died seven years ago still had an active Facebook page about three years passed his death. I would look at his page and rejoice in seeing his accomplishments, which were many. But that birthday alert would just wreck me every time.
Perhaps, instead of a cemetery, Facebook is becoming a mausoleum where all our memories get stored in a digital bit of energy. To my Facebook friends that have passed, I will wish you a joyous celestial birthday. I just won’t post you a note on Facebook itself. I’m not there yet.