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Facebook Birthday Etiquette

By July, 2013December 13th, 20232 min read

Having recently celebrated a birthday, I’ve made some interesting observations about the effect Facebook has had on how birthdays are noted. This leads to a taxonomy of Facebook users’ approaches to birthdays:

The wisher junkie logs on to Facebook every day and wishes happy birthday to all of their FacebookFriends(TM), no matter
how well they know them. They are the main reason birthday wishes comprise some 3.5% of all Facebook posts. The extreme wisher junkie does this just after midnight so they can be the first person to post on the wall.

The exhibitionist celebrator writes glowing tributes to their spouse/parent/close-relative-or-friend/pet on their own wall, on the occasion of the other person’s birthday or other milestone. Sometimes, they might also tag that person, if that person is indeed on Facebook.

The secret wisher prefers to convey their wishes more discreetly via a private message rather than on the wall. This could be because they realize it’s the equivalent of shouting it from the rooftops, and it’s visible by all of the recipients FacebookFriends(TM) in perpetuity. Because Facebook reminds them about birthdays, they still do this for many of their FacebookFriends(TM) even though they would never wish them happy birthday otherwise.

The subversive deliberately doesn’t post birthday wishes on anyone’s wall because they would never do so if not for Facebook. Because they don’t bother to segment all their FacebookFriends(TM) into categories and don’t want to offend anyone, they would rather not post any birthday wishes on principle, than risk getting into strife for only wishing some people and not others.

The traditionalist uses Facebook as a reminder tool for birthdays, but then sends a TXT or e-mail only to their RealFriends(TM), and never using Facebook wall or messaging.

Which one are you? Share this post with your friends and tell them!

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    Entertaining article………I'm a hybrid secretive wisher / traditionalist.

  • And er, belatedly happy birthday to you David… lol. I'm a not always logger-inner/fail to notice fb notifications-er, without any particular pattern to how I respond to any prompts. Now you mention it though, if the birthday person's an extravert, I probably just post to the wall. I pretty much only do the HB thing to those I know fairly well anyway, or that I appreciate their posts a lot perhaps. DM's for special people too far away for a coffee…

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    Definitely a wisher junkie but I am going on a quit program and will use the following code:
    MT = I don't you but you are on my fb and so happy birthday any way.
    Mazal Tov! = I don't know you that well but you rate a full greeting.
    Mazal Tov ve yom Huledet smeach! = You are one of my Israeli hevra and I do know you. Sort of!
    Mazal Tov and happy birthday. You should have a blessed year. = I do know you and I am reasonably fond of you, enough to warrant a full sentence.
    Mazal Tov, Mazal Tov! and I write you a little paragraph about your birthday and ask you your hebrew birthday and look up for you what happened on that day in the past and try to find joyful events, pretty difficult at times considering the esteem in which the Jewish nation was held in some areas of the world. = you belong to a handful of people I know well.

  • Shirl in Oz says:

    David, I am about to burst your bubble because I don't fit any of your categories. I have in ganzen 26 FB friends. I don't visit FB frequently and only recently discovered the News Feed.

    You have the distinct honour of being the first and only person I have wished happy birthday on FB.

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