Flavor of Week: How To Say Happy Birthday
Today, my little brother turned seventeen. This is a big deal. He can drive and now has an age-specific magazine to which he can properly relate in times of need, like a long distance BFF.
I felt pure enjoyment from reading the posts on his Facebook timeline. A lot of people wrote, “happy birthday bro,” which made me feel like a proud older sister–“bro” is probably the male equivalent of the female “babe,” meaning guys who have man-crushes on my little brother have written on his wall and yes, after all these years, he is a well-liked chap.
Writing on someone’s “timeline” for his or her birthday is the perfect thing to do when you have a man-crush/girl crush (as aforementioned), or even just a general crush (to whom you don an extra !! at the end of your birthday wish. Maybe he’ll notice me now!!!!!). Before Facebook, happy birthday’s were said the old fashioned way, like when passing someone in the hall even if you weren’t super tight.
But Facebook has added a new dimension to the birthday: it’s kind of like receiving a million cards; it gives you something extra with which you can measure how great your birthday was; it gives certain people no excuse not to say happy birthday because of how easy it can be to just say it, thereby allowing you to use your birthday as a way to gauge the legitimacy some of your relationships. (Then again, should we really be gauging the legitimacy of our relationships based on a Facebook wall post, or lack thereof?)
I’ve spent whole birthdays waiting to see if a few specific characters, let’s call them, reach out to me. And then the birthday is over, and they either haven’t reached out or they have. At this point, I can either pat myself on the back and be like, “you’re definitely the bigger person here,” or I can pout and hope they send a regretful text the next day, which they usually do.
I am intrigued by the way we use Facebook to extend warmest wishes on the anniversary of one’s birth. There is nothing greater than birthday collages, or when you see wall posts from one best friend to another even though they’ve obviously been speaking since the clock struck midnight. Still, we love the extra gift, free of monetary cost, yet with invaluable social cost, that Facebook gives us each year.
That all being said, I rarely use Facebook to convey birthday wishes.
It’s great for girl-crushes, it’s great for people whose phone numbers I don’t have but wish I did, and in my eyes, that’s about it. The last Facebook photo collage I made was for my best guy friend and included photos of us making strange faces on a camel in Israel. In that case, it was, as they say, irresistablé.
My most important question as of recent: Is it better to make a wall post, or to not say “happy birthday” at all?
There are pros and cons to each type of birthday wish, from Hallmark card in the mail to Instagram comment to text to phone call to Facebook message (yes, it holds a different weight than a Facebook wall post). “Happy birthday” isn’t really about wishing someone another year of beautiful life, preferably processed with VSCOcam C1 filter. It isn’t even really about what you say–well, unless you’re giving me extra exclamation points or a <3 or a “babe”. It’s about how you say it.