Make birthday wishes a more personal interaction

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By Emma Goodwin

This past weekend, I turned 20. And now that I am no longer a teenager, I feel I have a newfound wisdom and poise that can only come with old age. And while I sit here, pondering my ever-fleeting youth, I am left with nostalgia and reminders of the world I grew up in. Oh, how the times have changed.

First of all, Starbucks was a lot cheaper when I was a kid (going off what my mom says). They don’t make breakfast Lunchables anymore, which is a travesty if I ever saw one. And being a cat lady (or, I guess talking about being a cat lady) is cool now.

But a big change (and a more serious one than the available Lunchables … I suppose) is the presence of social media and technology in our lives, and the completely ubiquitous role we have let it take.

When I was a kid, I would anxiously await all of the calls. I mean, I was five. It’s not like I had a lot of people calling my house phone to talk to me. But on my birthday it was like fame had found me. I’m sure a lot of you can relate. Relatives would send cards in the mail (with money hopefully) and when you came back home from fun birthday excursions, your home phone’s voice mail would be full of messages — mostly friends and family timing the first note of “Happy Birthday,” so it landed after the recording’s “beep.”

But now, instead, your phone’s battery drains from constant Facebook notifications so you know that “‘random person you had English class with sophomore year of high school’ wrote on your wall.”

If you’re lucky, close friends and siblings will post a cute (or more frequently terribly ugly) picture to Instagram, and your grandparents will still call you ’cause they haven’t figured out what Facebook is yet.

I am absolutely guilty of this. Most of the time, if I have someone’s number saved in my phone, I will opt for sending them a quick text message, but if I don’t, I take the three seconds to type a quick “Happy Birthday! :)” and go about my day. I’ve even started using the feature where I can write a birthday post days in advance and let Facebook post it on time so I don’t have to worry about forgetting.

Facebook is an easy, convenient medium to wish a happy birthday to your acquaintances, coworkers or classmates. But it shouldn’t be taking the place of personal happy birthdays to close friends and family members.

Like I said, I’m 100 percent guilty of doing this on a fairly regular basis, but that was in my teenage years. Now, with budding … non-teenage-ness (I guess that term works?) … I think it’s time for all of us to agree that personal interactions are being flown out the window for convenience. It’s an argument all of us have heard before, but nobody really cares about. When you can do so much from the comfort of your own bed as long as you have your charger, nothing else seems to matter.

But it’s incredibly lazy and further, it’s impersonal and disingenuous.

Whether you decide to make a call or send a text, the more personal route is the way to go. You won’t be offering all of Facebook a public spectacle to prove your friendship, but you’ll show that you’ve taken time out of your day to give someone else deserved time on their day.

And not only should we be doing this for people’s birthdays, but we should also be doing it whenever big things happen. Facebook is great for announcing big things to many people at once, but rather than comment a simple “Congrats!” when someone announces a new internship, send them a text instead.

We’ve let Facebook take a lot away from us when it comes to how we want to interact. This is something that we are all to blame for. But it’s not too late to revert back to old trends and practices. If we can bring back 80s and 90s fashion, we can bring back 80s and 90s ways of saying “happy birthday,” too.