Over a month ago, I celebrated my birthday. It’s always been a big deal in my family and with friends. And now with the advent of Facebook I love the event even more. Throughout the day you get dozens of ‘Happy Birthday’ messages from new and old friends, acquaintances and colleagues. I love seeing my page fill up with messages that contain capital letters, smiley faces and a plethora of exclamation points. But it wasn’t until this year that I began to realize sometimes Facebook becomes the big birthday cop-out.
How much time does it take to leave a message on someone’s wall? Thirty seconds. A minute max – if you are really leaving a thought-out message. It’s nice to know someone you were friends with years ago or went to school with you thought of you for those moments. But when it is a relative or good friend leaving the message things begin to look suspicious.
This year, for the first time ever, none of my best friends called to wish me a Happy Birthday. In their defense, it is no secret that I am a lover of social media and technology. One of them sent me a lovely email. Another sent me an actual snail-mail birthday card. Half of the text me. And they ALL left a line or two on Facebook. But no one bothered to pick up the phone and call.
I talked to one of my nearest and dearest friends a month later and she mentioned to me that she knew she didn’t call, life was crazy at the time, but she text me, right? Yes. There was a brief pause and then she said ‘Sorry I should have called.’ I didn’t bother to confirm that statement. She knew.
But Facebook has her and millions of others set in the way of thinking that says it is enough to leave a message. But there is a problem when my best friend’s message is on par with my younger sister’s college roommate (who I’ve met only 4 times) and the girl I did summer camp with once. To develop real human relationships we need to spend time cultivating those. They need to be feed with short messages on occasion so the person knows we are thinking of them and in-depth phone calls when the occasion calls for it.