I Took my Birthday off of Facebook

Yes, it is an image of a cricket. Two crickets, actually.

So it was a week before my birthday and part of me has simply had enough of Facebook. I confess that I used to be someone who said “Happy Birthday” to everyone in my friends list that was having a birthday that day. It was a nice thing to do, to remember them. Sure, it was a pain some days when there were a lot of birthdays, but it did not take too long to simply write a few words.

A couple of years ago I tired of this exercise. It was about the same time that Facebook took to actively reminding me that someone was having a birthday.

Call me oppositional.

“Oppositional.”

OK, maybe I am.

So I stopped one day. No fanfare. No tortured explanation in a paragraph on Facebook about how I was tired of this exercise on Facebook. I just stopped.

Then the fundraiser birthdays started.

And I found myself feeling drawn in a bit, but no, I wasn’t going to give in. Nope. Not going to do it, no matter how worthy the cause. Zuckerberg would not win, would not force me to do what he wanted me to do.

This year, as my very own birthday approached, I decided to conduct a little experiment. I went into my settings … you know that labyrinth of menus that finally leads to making my own birthday something that “only you” can see.

I did it. I removed my birthday from Facebook a week prior to the day.

So what happened? Crickets. Absolutely nothing.

I checked my Facebook that morning. Nothing.

I checked that afternoon while I was having lunch with my mother and family. Nothing.

I checked later in the day, in the evening. Nothing.

Crickets.

And please, friends and family members, hear me say that I really don’t care all that much. Seriously. I am much more concerned about the fact that an algorithm would be necessary to prompt any of us to acknowledge someone else; this fact speaks way more about where our overscheduled, overstimulated culture is than anything about my own worth and value to you or anyone else.

I’m fine, really. I’m 45 this year. Whoop-de-doo.

Really, I’m fine.

OK…, so maybe 45 is making me a tad wobbly, but really, I’m fine.

To me, the larger issue in this little experiment was that it resulted in me hearing from several family members, a few close friends, a card from my church, … and no one else.

So what happens in a culture where an act of relationship is now prompted by an algorithm? Where are we when we now rely on an external cue to tell us to celebrate a fellow human being that we are “friends” with?

I’m not sure I have the answer to that one.

I just know that when I stopped participating . . . so did everyone else.

Audio from Anchor.fm

clinical social worker, spiritual director, author, husband, father, son, runner in Georgia, co-author of When Anxiety Strikes from Kregel Publications.

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