Is Facebook a Farce?

To everyone who wished me a happy birthday on Monday on my Facebook profile, thank you. But it wasn’t really my birthday. Before you work up a sweat, please allow me to explain. I am getting so tired of this over-reliance on Facebook to keep people up to date with everything happening in their peers’ lives that I wanted to see just how many people would realise that they had already wished me a happy birthday this year, on my real birthday months ago.

So I edited my profile and changed my birthday from the real date – April 2 – to a fake date – September 13 – to see what would happen. At best I expected about 10 to 20 people to respond without questioning the change.

But surprisingly, almost 100 of my FB chums wished me a great day.

I was in two minds: whether to feel excited to receive so many messages of love, or to feel shocked that it was so easy for folk to be deceived.

Now, I realise that I do have some friends on FB who don’t know me so well and therefore wouldn’t know my birthday – you simply can’t know hundreds of people’s birthdays off the top of your head! But what really surprised me was that some of the people I think know me best didn’t so much as question the logic of this scenario and went ahead and wished me many happy returns. One of my friends who knows full well that I was born on the same day as her brother even wrote me a message!

But another friend sent me a message warning me that there was an error on my FB page because it was giving the wrong day for my birthday. I was glad and relieved that it had dawned on somebody at last.

And then I realised why she’d noticed.

Our friendship predates Facebook when wishing someone a happy birthday was something more special than writing on their wall (which if you think about it isn’t even a real place in the tangible universe) – when going out for ice cream, getting a birthday card or a telephone call early in the morning was the order of the day.

Knowing and remembering the day that someone who is friend was born is something very important to me because as I am sure you know, a birthday is a day of so much happiness and love which cannot be replaced by any other day in the year.

We all need to consider this very deeply.

How well do we know the people who are our Facebook friends if we need technology to remind us about things about them, if we only learn that they had a baby or got married from their status updates? Some people have even had the misfortune of writing on a friend’s wall only to later discover that the person died many months ago.

Are we racking up real friends – or just accepting friendship requests so we can inflate our numbers and feel better about ourselves?

 What’s the point of having 500+ ‘friends’ when you only engage meaningfully with less than 10? I realise more and more how Facebook is killing the true concept of friendship and companionship, how we are wasting time searching for people in a blue and white world instead of seeking them out in the real palpable dimensions of existence.

It’s a real shame that we call it Facebook as though we are interacting face-to-face because all we are doing is creating more distance between ourselves.

Farce Book. Facade Book. Fake Book.  Those might work a little bit better.

Indeed Facebook is a good way to stay connected. But we must beware of becoming overly reliant on it.

As for me, I am going back to basics and getting myself a notebook to write out all my friends’ birthdays like I used to.

Life’s too special to have the greasy hands of commercialism and capitalism take over everything.

180 thoughts on “Is Facebook a Farce?

  1. No more birthday messages from me to you, lest I be fooled. Technology is for simplifying life. How many of your friends numbers do you know by head? thanks to your mobile phone you can store hundreds and you know us men aren’t too fond of remembering birthdays or anniversaries etc and have to rely on Facebook.

  2. @ Nqaba, the point was not to ‘fool’ anyone – and least of all people I wouldn’t ever dream could remember my brithday off the top of their heads, like I say in the post.

    What shcoked me is that very close friends were fooled too. And that is the point I am trying to make…

  3. So true!!!It just goes to show we are obssessed with typing away on FB and not considering actually meeting up with friends on a face to face basis and actually asking “How are you doin’?”

    People are only interested on what your latest status update is and if you are dating,single or married.It’s just sad…
    The information age has made computers and cellphones our friends.If we don’t actually relate to each other then we will become anti-social and lose touch with everyone around us…

  4. Perhaps, we should ask oureselves what purpose Facebook service in our lives and affairs with people. Birthday for example can be accruately remember by people closest to you and even at that some people can’t get remember important dates (sadly)… And on other matters, there are verified angles to every story, if we only take time to ponder and check.

    There are so many friends I do not know on Facebook but they are my online friends added for the purpose of activism. many of us should ask why we add who we add and why we wanna expand our friendship to people we barely know…

    I keep my friends birthdays in yahoo calander,I got reminded of everyone birthday 3 days in advance as I set it. I have done this since 2002 and it has being effective… you may want to try that too.

  5. I just love the way you make these observations. I have also noticed that during the early days on Facebook, that’s when one has a tendency of accepting almost every friend request, perhaps bcoz of the excitement, but like you rightly observed, you engage meaningfully with no more than 10 of those friends! Thanks for bringing this up.

    1. One thing that many people never consider is the fact that perhaps the people who send you friend requests aren’t really requesting your friendship at all-rather, they wish to see what kind of person you are, what goes on in your mind (for people have an irrational tendency to express their every thought online), as a way simply not only to stalk you, but to stick their shameless noses into your business.

      1. So many people love the “facebook stalk” it has become a hobbie of many people I know. And yes lots of people are adding you to have a good sticky nose at the person you have become. There is another thing I thought of maybe thats why people put photo’s of great holidays and times they are doing great things so it appears that their lives are way more exciting than they are. For whatever reason people get facebook it shouldn’t be to add and delete friends.
        I am going to have a real hard think about the next person I add. I will only add them if I plan on physically catching up with them. I want to bring back the days of catching up for a cuppa and a chat. Not the midnight stalk after downing a few wines.
        I am with you about people who have online break downs in their 1,000 status updates. Its the same as putting overly private photo’s on facebook. Yes its great that my friends have had babies, but do we need to see upclose and personal shots of the birth (no thanks!)

  6. …well it really depends on what one needs out of Facebook. I don’t really look for “new” friends, the older I grow, I realize that I grow more and more aloof and unable to open myself to the intimacy of sharing that is required in the process of becoming a friend.

    So for birthdays and all, yep, FB is a good tool for me. There’s no way I could remember the birthdays and sometimes even when I know the birthdays, I lose track of the dates because I have a hamster on a treadmill kind of life. I even forget my own birthday sometimes and even though I may remember later in the day – the truth is – it would have failed to register initially. Maybe it’s because I am one of those people who are not very sentimental about my birthday but I try to keep track of my friends’ and loved ones because it usually means a lot to them.

    Finally, FB is not a farce per se, it actually gives you the option to decide what you wanna use it for – networking, dating, meeting new people etc, so I think it’s really an issue of people failing to use the technology effectively or appropriately to meet their needs.

    And I fell for that one too, wished you a happy birthday and even if it was the wrong date, the sentiment, warm wishes and kind thoughts remain sincere, as I believe they do for everyone who took the time off their busy schedules to “fall for your trickery”.

    But like I said elsewhere – you went to great lengths to prove a point and so madam – point taken.

    We certainly need to always be reminded of some of these subtly entrapping addictions. But for all its flaws, FB is a great tool and yes, it helps us keep track of those whom we fondly remember for various, countless acts of kindness they may have bestowed upon us – helps us to celebrate their joys (new babies and marriages) and also to share their sorrows (bereavements and all that).

    The only reason why we become so addicted to FB is because we’re addicted to all the people it avails to us, to all the personalities we know, we love and we cherish. All my dearest friends are miles away and through FB I get to interact with them – so needless to say, FB will become a favorite past time for me. Gotta rush love! Crazy day, hectic schedules and of course, the relentless pursuit of meeting those deadlines.

    See you on Facebook?🙂🙂

  7. On the contrary I think facebookbconnects you to people wh would have otherwise remained shadowy imaginations. Sometime last week I was reading a well researched and thought provoking article which resulted in me searching for the author and that is axactly how I ended up connected to one Fungai Machirori and it reminded me that I had chilhood friends, Eddy and Sydney Machirori and that got me reminiscing and getting all nostalgic. Picture that

  8. gr8 n tru piece there fungai, cldnt help airing my views.
    its tru, we hv legions o fb frenz on fb bt u cnt knw and remember the birthdays for all of them even if u call em frenz. 4 me e only birthdays i knw n rememba r thse o my sisters n brothers, n only e immediate ones so 2 speak n maybe thse of 1 or 2 frenz, n i mean 1 or 2, nothing more.
    The other thing is some of thse frenz of ours r people tht we knw n lost contact with years ago, only 2 b brot 2gether again by fb.n in reality we only want 2 be frenz so u can find out who married who? hw many kids does she nw hv? and does she luk n better than she dd wen we last met? in as much as we also gt to c wn her birthday is when we become frenz, i wld never remember it, even e day after i wished her a happy birthday on her wall, n will only rely on fb 2 remind again next year.
    and to be honest with you, e bulk of my fb buddies, yes i know all of them on a more personal level above fb bt mst of thm its only as colleagues, acquintances or thy r family/relatives. few, n i mean very few re frenz in every sense o e word. n with these real frenz i have eir birthdays saved on my mobile fon as a reminder if i happen to forget, which neva happens.

  9. I think it would be a tad delusional to assume that all our ‘friends’ on facebook are actually that – friends, in its traditional sense. In this fast paced world, it makes sense that people lose track of birthdays, so for me, whether you keep birthday reminders in a notebook or phone (like I do), it all boils down to the same – you need something to remind you. Ofcourse, we all have close friends and family whose birthday we automatically remember, bt probably one can count those on one hand. Difference is, technology, in the form of Facebook, is intended to save you the hassle. And how often do people lie about their birthdays, and to accomplish what, if not to make the portal look like a ‘farce’ book? lol

  10. That’s why I’m a realist on FB and only have 80 something friends on it (and more than half of those I don’t even consider real friends). I trim the fat regularly.

    They should rebrand Facebook to AcquaintanceBook because that’s what the majority of the “friends” are on it.

  11. Great post — very thought provoking. I, myself, have often wondered how technology – which seeks to virtually connect – ends up creating even more space between us in reality. (Congrats on being “Freshly Pressed!”)

  12. Good point, I really hate the fact that people distance their self from real life friendships but keep putting more and more time in meaningless status updates, while thinking they’re staying in touch. Nice experiment!

  13. I don’t have FB announce my birthday. Nearly all of my FB friends are people I have known for years, (some longer than 10 years), and not a single person remembered my birthday without FB telling them. I think I’ll try what you did and see if anyone realizes that FB is lying to them.

    I also have my relationship status set to ‘married,’ just to prove that you can’t rely on any information on FB. If people want to know about my personal life, they’ll have to actively ask me about it.

    I do like calling FakeBook, though. It’s quite suiting. Thanks for the post and congrats on making FP

  14. I don’t know about the rest of the world but I have very rich friendship and I use Facebook to keep in regular contact but it does not necessarily replace the face-to-face interactions with my friends which I highly value. When you have friends and family scattered all over the country, it can make it easier to keep in touch on the little daily or smaller changes in life – my daughter’s latest photos or activities/milestones. I can’t very well call 10 people and say, “You should have heard the awesome thing my daughter said/did today!” or “She’s singing her ABCs!” “We got a new cat!” Those things aren’t necessarily phone-call worthy but are valuable, fun bits of information. Also, I have a professional profile that I use to keep up with business colleagues – of which there are many. I can’t possibly call everyone once a month but I can skim my Facebook page for news and happenings amongst my business friends and colleagues. It keeps them present in my mind. Now as with everything in this day and age, moderation is key.

  15. Wow. This post really got me thinking. And I agree with you about the whole 10 out of 500 friends thing. Hmmmm…maybe I’ll try your test and change my Facebook birthday. And it is disappointing to know that most of your friends just see the notice that it’s your birthday and blindly wish you a “happy birthday” even if it was your birthday a few months ago.

    Very interesting. Congrats on getting Freshly Pressed!🙂

  16. I posted a Facebook cartoon earlier today. It was something I drew some time ago but felt like revisiting after some horrid “status updates”

    I have to agree with you … are we really interacting in the true sense of the word?

  17. I have made some good friends over the past couple of years that, were it not for facebook/instant messengers/blogs/twitter, I would have maybe only run into a couple times on the social scene. Yes, the vast majority of my fb friends are distant and forgotten, or tangential at best, but I prefer to think that fb and social media only opens the doors to more potential friendships. If I were only exposed to the group of people I grew up with back in my hometown, I’d be a much lonelier person today.

  18. “FriendBook”…makes more sense.

    AND, I SO agree with those “friending only for numbers” ( I feel the same about bloggers…only asking for followers because you want the numbers).

    Facebook is a toy for me. I don’t take it too seriously. I have friends in the UK and it is the only way I can keep in contact with them on a broader scale. Email, is just that…a letter. But you can see so much more of the person from their profile page…pictures, likes, friends, their thoughts.

    I’ve seen so many different perceptions of Facebook through blogs. It’s very interesting.

    Great post!

  19. Great post and I think you make a very good point. I don’t really understand why people have 100+ friends on facebook or are still friends with people they don’t even like. I have made a habit of only friending people on facebook whom I know personally and I speak to outside of facebook regularly. I think it’s a useful thing to stay up-to-date and know what your friends are up to but I don’t think people should solely rely on it for all of their information.

  20. Catch me @ Enjoying the Ride!

    Although I’ve been on facebook for a little less than 2 years, I found myself questioning my affiliations with “FRIENDS” who I hardly knew w/in the first 6 months of joining.

    In the beginning, I was excited to catch up w/ old friends and family who I hadn’t spoken to in years! I joined MafiaWars & Farmville fb gaming apps and had an even greater blast meeting folk from all around the world… and before I knew it- I had accepted more than 1,500 friendship requests!??

    Unfortunately, during a four month period, I experienced a great deal of personal struggles- including being hospitalized & the death of my Mother. Amazingly enough, going through the grieving process with sooooo many “friends” was one of the most isolating, lonely chapters of my life! WHERE WERE ALL MY fb FRIENDS?! … That’s when I realized the “Faux freindship connections of facebook”.

    So earlier this year- just after ringing in the New Year, I began honestly evaluating my actual relationship with each and every person to whom I had “friend’d up” on facebook. The process has taken the better part of the last 8 months, but I’m proud to say that I have surrounded myself with less than 100 friends, neighbors, family, acquaintances, coworkers, church members and just “cool folk to know”!

    I personally know these people (or enough about them) and interact with them- both on and off facebook- daily. For me, it feels far more satisfying to spend my valuable time nurturing connections with fewer, but more relevant persons, than with an infinite amount of strangers… just say’n!

  21. Sorry, I disagree. I love facebook.

    I’m from the States but I moved to Mexico 5 years ago. Facebook allows me to keep in touch with friends I would have lost long ago, and I know many others can say the same.

    Obviously there are some friends I would never have lost touch with no matter what, and in that case I can see what they’re doing every day/week, instead of an e-mail every month or spending tons of money on long distance calls. I get to see pictures of them, their kids, their dogs, their new spouses, etc. I love it.

    I know people who get too easily addicted, and are on there for hours a day (which could be spent playing with their kids or visiting a real life friend), so we have to be careful.

    The concept in general, though, is great!

    I don’t see why you’d be shocked at so many people getting your bday wrong (when it was you who told them the wrong date), but yes, I think it’s kinda crazy that some of your good friends didn’t spot it.

  22. Didnt fool me…but I loved the piece. It reminded me that on campus I have had two awkward encounters with someone who I talked to, although rarely, on Facebook and yet we passed each other so uncomfortably when on campus. It shocked me until I realised that Facebook creates friendships that dont require too much effort beyond the click of a button, which most people are comfortable with. And not all the people with the 500plus contacts are necesarrily socialites. But in case you want to hear it anyway, happy fake birthday.

  23. I’ve never remembered my friends birthdays. And I love that Facebook reminds me of them.

    Growing up we didn’t celebrate birthdays in my family for the most part. I think because we were rather poor. So I often forget how meaningful they are to other people. And I don’t make a point to remember when they are.

    So, thank you, Facebook, for the reminders.


  24. I guess I understand where you’re coming from. But then again it’s all a matter of perspective. I still think that Facebook is a great in keeping connections with other people, especially those we can’t get to meet regularly (e.g relatives abroad) but you have a good point though. I think that way sometimes too, but I think that Facebook’s pros surmount its cons.😀

  25. It’s certainly worth having tenuous acquaintances as friends – you never know when you might need to contact them about something other, something related to a mutual friend for example.

    Anyone you don’t know shouldn’t be on your contact list, it’s just narcissistic IMO

  26. Lately I’ve really been questioning why we use Facebook and the authenticity of “friendships” on there. Your post is providing me with more food for thought. Awesome experiment by the way, though it does make me a bit sad!

  27. I totally agree with you! I have lots of friends on facebook but I rarely physically interact with most of them. Getting phone call greetings on your birthday is certainly much more personal than having hundreds of people post a greeting (sometimes even automated ones) on your Facebook wall. I miss the good ol’ days too!

    Visit my blog please, I’m kinda new!😉

  28. I really enjoyed reading about your experiment. However, I still have no problem with FB. It’s not called “BestFriendBook” or “I-Know-Everything-About-You-Book”. It’s simply Facebook…and my interpretation is that I’m able to easily use people’s “faces” (or profile pics du jour) to keep track of their activities, comments, and exploits. I don’t have an exhorbitant amount of friends on FB, but I’m also not delusional about the fact that I’m not truly friends with many of them. Most of them were barely acquaintances in high school, but I know that they will check my FB profile just about as often as I check theirs – which is not too darn often. I use it to upload pictures from places I’ve been so that if some of my real friends and family want to view them, they can. I regularly revise my list and determine that if there’s someone on their that probably doesn’t need to be there, then I’ll get rid of that. I’ve discovered that I’ve been removed from some people’s lists on occasion. I’m not insulted…I understand that if I’m not really in contact with someone that I risk being removed. So I use FB to keep up with my faraway friends and family that I couldn’t possibly keep up with if I was to phone them all the time. Besides…I HATE the phone! Congrats on being FP’ed!

  29. I know where you’re coming from, but honestly, Facebook is what you make it.

    First, it’s incredible people watching, you have to admit. The things people reveal about themselves online is really outstanding. As a writer, I dig that kind of self revelation.

    But I also have to say, facebook is a great way to reconnect with old friends, and to discover you have things in common with people you didn’t know well before. I’ve cultivated honest-to-God friendships with people I didn’t hang out with a all in college, because I was kind of *forced* to get to know them through facebook, and ended up liking what I read.

    So here: If you want facebook to be more meaningful, use it in a meaningful way. Be a good friend yourself and see what happens.

  30. I agree w/ 36×37 – it is what you make it. I too have reconnected with old friends, which has been a pleasant surprise, but I also have over 300 friends who I’ve a) met once b) haven’t talked to in 5+ years or c) don’t care about. But it is what it is. I’ve slowly stopped wishing people happy bday on facebook and rather call/text them instead.

    Congrats on freshly pressed though!

  31. I can see the point you’re wanting to make, but the fact is that technologies change and society adapts along with it. I used to memorize phone numbers, now I can only remember my dad’s cell phone because it’s been the same one since 2000. On a good day I can remember my wife’s, but not usually. I used to know albums by my favorite bands so well that I knew almost every word and knew the track listing and every title of every song and every crease and wrinkle and typo in the liner notes; I would argue that I’m an even bigger fan of music today, but if I were to list my top 10 albums now, I bet I could spit out a few lyrics here and there and confidently name around ten or eleven songs. I used to know the birthdays of every quasi-close friend from when I was in high school to my early 20’s, now, without checking, I can name (not counting my wife or family members or people I still know from back then) . . . five? And a couple of those are only because I know of their proximity to my own.

    Facebook has changed things. Perhaps that’s being too generous to just Facebook, so let me say “Social Networking has changed things.” People rely on is convenience so they can focus on other areas of life. Is it abused? Absolutely, and as is the case with every new trend and technology, those who do abuse it are really irritating and easy to ridicule. But many of us (and I want to say “Most of us”) use it appropriately. I have a large group of friends that I see on a regular basis, but can’t keep up with on my own. Facebook allows us to keep in touch better than we could if we didn’t have it. When some close friends of mine found out they were pregnant, they had my wife and I over for dinner and told us, as they had done with a large handful of our other friends, then made the announcement on Facebook so that everyone could know. Conversely, there’s a guy I’m well acquaintanced with but don’t regularly hang out with him. When I’d see him, I’d notice the same girl always nearby, and had my suspicions. Well, a week ago, I saw him announce on Facebook that he was in a relationship. I guarantee his closest friends knew in person first.

    You have to take a few things into consideration when you’re bashing the way social networking has changed our lives. Do you see the person in question less now that you are both on Facebook? If so, is it BECAUSE of Facebook? Are you really as close to that person as you think if you just found out on Facebook they’re engaged? And if so, wouldn’t the problem be with them and not necessarily with the tool that’s used? Would 100 or so people have remembered your birthday and sent you a card or given you a call without Facebook? Can you name all the well-wishes for birthdays you sent out five months ago? If you actually can, then you have to understand your uniqueness; not everyone remembers those kinds of things as a cynic might expect them to.

    And that brings me to my last point. I think your little experiment proved less that people rely too much on Facebook and more that what you did actually shows that you’re a bit narcissistic. Do you have any idea how easy it is to get people to question and replace otherwise trivial information if you tell them something false? Tons of experiments have been done through the years that give people false information that is of tertiary importance to them, contradicting something they should know (like a date or place in history or something), and the people accept the false information without question. What happened on your wall is common human psychology, not the sign of the times. I think that girl who “(knew) full well” that you were born on the same day as her brother had a mind slip and would likely remember that fact with a light-hearted, “oh gosh I’m so dumb!” in response when she was told she was deceived. Have you never remembered something incorrectly because you didn’t associate it with the thing that helped you remember? Personally I can say I’ve made that error hundreds of times, if not more. So you can go back to your old pen and paper method, but don’t assume that your bruised ego has proven anything.

  32. Well luckily I know my friends’ birthdays so I wouldn’t be deceived, just like I wasn’t deceived when one of my friends put a terrible message in the news feed and it turned out it was just her sister messing around. But I think we’re too reliant on Facebook now: in some ways that’s why I like Twitter better because you don’t have huge amounts of personal information, you can post about what you’re doing but it still forces you to interact and find out more about others (like birthdays, relationship status, hometown etc.)
    Great post🙂

  33. This is a very eye opening viewpoint you present here. I’ve never been too big on birthdays anyway. To me, they’re more about the kids. Once you’ve reached 18 (or 21 in areas where you’re “of age” at 21) then in my eyes it’s just another day. Excellent experiment with changing your birthday on Facebook. Facebook does have its advantages but like you said, we can’t lose the human touch either.

  34. THANK YOU! Finally someone has been able to capture how I feel about Facebook. I am one of those people with 500+ “friends.” I had Facebook since the beginning. Back when only university students were allowed to use it. Those were the good days. It was used to be informed about events at your school, or to find that guy that takes great notes in poli sci.

    Over the last year or so, I have been sick of Facebook. I rarely check it. I know friends who rely on FB to tell them where to be. I have occasionally missed events only to have the person yell at me, “didn’t you get my invite?” “Oh, which e-mail was it sent to?” I respond because email is at least better than FB. They respond, “what? No! I sent you an invite on Facebook a few weeks ago.”

    The final straw for me was when my mom told me that there was exciting news. I asked her what it was, and she dragged me to my computer saying,”look at your aunt’s FB page!” Sure enough, my cousin was pregnant. Two problems with this; 1) my mom and aunt have FB, 2) she should have just told me. It’s way more exciting to hear good news from a real person than from a non-existant technological concept.

    So, use Facebook, but use it with caution. It’s great for sharing photos and keeping in touch with your friends that live in different countries, but don’t use it as a regular means of communication.

    Thank you for listening,❤ Milieu

  35. I like the experiment. It shows that Facebook is only an electronic means of getting to know people. May not be the real stuff. Many friends there are not true friends.

  36. You are so right with your initial thougt, that FB is a farce. In my oppinion it is not only a farce but a place for doomed an dull minds to keep up the illusion of “FRIENDS”, who aren’t really there and seem to have no idea whatsoever about what this word really means.

  37. We have so many friends on facebook, but all we do is sit at home and talk to them online. You are exactly right what a farce. What happened to meeting friends in person. Great post, got a lot of people thinking. Keep up the great work!

  38. Isn’t all about balance. I’m not saying facebook should be banned but c’mon already. I just love it when I am sitting in a room full of people and several have some sort of gadget in their hands looking at their facebook pages. Huh? All of these real people, friends and family here to hang out together and you want to hang out with your cyber friends. I don’t get it. We have lost the art of real conversation. I also don’t like how the “lingo” has distorted the “real” meaning of “friend” I could never “un friend” a real person. I vote for “farcebook”

  39. Hi,

    I totally agree with you! I think facebook is a scam and doesn’t mean anything to people. There is no more truth of friendship! I use to be on facebook and I did delete my account because everybody will look at everything you are doing as well as your pictures, life, …


  40. Great post, thank you for saying this! I appreciate the value of technology, but seriously wonder about how people are communicating. Texting and facebook certainly have their place, but they are a lonely method of communication when compared to real interactions, where you can see a face or hear a voice. And in the end, human beings don’t want to be lonely. So keeping up with friends or dropping quick updates is one thing, especially for friends you are not so close with, but texing people to ask them out or break up or share lengthly statements about your feelings seems strange. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned (my first instinct is to make a call vs text), but I worry that we are raising a generation of socially inept people who won’t have experience reading expressions or dealing with the “human” side of communicating because all they will know is texing and facebook. Or maybe, just maybe, everyone else will realize they miss the human touch, and they too might return to the friendships and conversations that were around in the olden days, when I was young. 🙂

  41. I don’t know…I don’t even understand why you went down that rabbit hole? Your notebook for remembering your friends’ birthdays is providing pretty much the same service as facebook, and if you happened to mistakenly write down the wrong day (or if they so happened to give you the wrong day as a “test” of your closeness) that’s an honest mistake. I can’t understand why you would even go there–facebook is a social networking tool, it’s a way for people who want to share parts of themselves with other people to share it, it’s a way to put out that you’re getting married or having a baby without worrying if you forgot to call someone or if they will be offended if they hear it from so-and-so first, but it’s not a measure of your closeness with people. There may have been people who saw that day and thought “huh..I thought it was a different day, but I guess since it says so here…” I know I do that. Or something like that. People probably just went ahead and trusted the technology because that’s a much more simple and obvious scenario than thinking “oh s/he must have changed the date to see how many people would notice.” It doesn’t mean anyone loves you less or knows you less, and it doesn’t mean that you have to stop buying cards, calling or going for ice cream with the people you love. If you feel like you’re not connecting with them enough, why not just start by being the one to pick up the phone and ask if they want to go to dinner and catch up?

  42. It’s a farce as far as “keeping in touch” goes.

    It’s like trying to have a conversation with someone using 25% of your vocabulary through an opaque wall with a million speakers.

    What got me was that my Grandmother thinks it’s a valid way of communication. That I was invited to my good friend’s bachelorette party via facebook and had no idea because I don’t check the “invites” — which are all junk. What happened to sharing community space with people?

  43. I do enjoy facebook, and am so happy that I have been able to stay in touch with people in ways that I maybe wouldn’t have otherwise. By “staying in touch,” I mean actively communicating with them through wall posts or private messages or looking at pictures and actually commenting on them. I think that this is okay – although these are “new” ways of communicating, I think that to condemn all “new” communication would also require condemning email, phone calls, blog commments, letters sent through the post office… heck, even hand-written and hand-delivered notes were “new” when parchment was first developed!🙂

    For me, while I appreciate the one-on-one communication that facebook offers (messages, wall posts to a specific person, etc.), I am starting to become cynical of the status updates/twitter updates/mass-broadcasts-of-information-to-anyone-that-will-look-at-it stuff. The stuff where I post and have no idea whether it was read by my best friend or by my just-barely-acquaintance, or anyone in between. F

    or that reason, I have personally removed my “news feed” on facebook. I didn’t really realize this option even existed until I started deleting people from the news feed – when you hover over a particular post, it shows a little X and you can choose “hide ________”. While it took quite a bit of clicking, I eventually was able to hide everyone (you can only hide people who have recently posted, so I still periodically have a post show up from someone who hadn’t posted in awhile.) Personally, I hid everyone, even my closest friends and family, although some might choose to keep those nearest-and-dearest on their news feed.

    This change has enabled me to stay “friends” with people, meaning I can still write to them, and they can still write to me, if we really want to (so obviously, this wouldn’t have helped the birthday situation!) However, it forces me to truly be interested in people. It has caused me to evaluate the people I really care about, and now I can intentionally type in that person’s name, visit their page, and say hello. It means that I’m “out of the loop” on stuff, but feels a little more “authentic” than before.

    Case in point: On Monday, my sister called me and said, “Maybe you already saw this on facebook, but my car was broken into last night.” No, I hadn’t seen it on facebook, actually, but we were able to have a conversation about it then. Perhaps 10 other facebook friend’s cars were broken into over the weekend, too, but to me, my sister’s is the only one that matters, since she took the time to actually call and talk about it.

    Anyways, thanks for bringing up an interesting point about facebook! Neat experiment with the birthday “hoax.” It will surely make me think twice the next time I wish someone a happy birthday!

  44. I wrote a piece in the same vein a couple of weeks ago. Facebook allows us to form a faulty sense of intimacy with people we don’t really even know.

    Facebook doesn’t really mean friendship in the end, but it does provide the means of keeping in touch with others. We use it to communicate things we normally wouldn’t say in real life; unfriending someone means “I don’t like you.” It’s a lot of communicating without the mess of communication.

    As far as the birthdays goes; you’ve got a lot of people who took time out of their day to wish you a happy birthday regardless of the faulty intel. I’d take that as a compliment.

  45. i have a facebook. last log in? can’t remember. maybe a week or so. it is destroying society i think… sadly people are becomming more and more anonymous! next, it’ll be like that bruce willis movie with the androids!🙂

    1. You mean Surrogates? Good movie! And I really do think that movie, if people where to watch it, really shows how this world is becoming. It really does show that more and more people relay on the internet, and computer technology, too much for their daily lives. And yes, I will be the 1st to admit that I do. But unlike many/some people, I try not to hide who I am (but that really means nothing today in the world of the internet). But me, as well as most of America, rely on cell phones, texting, Facebook, MySpace (if anyone even uses it anymore) and other technology to get them through their lives. But to be fair, I don’t think it’s fair to just blame the people who use it often, it also has a lot to do with society and big businesses pushing the use of using Facebook, Twitter and such to “keep them updated” in their lives.

  46. You hit the nail on the head saying “Indeed Facebook is a good way to stay connected. But we must beware of becoming overly reliant on it.” The effect that Facebook has is double edged: on the one hand we are certainly creating more distance between our true relationships and perhaps weakening them unnecessarily. Like you said, you should be going out for ice cream or getting an early morning phone call, not checking to see if you have a little red number on your notifications tab with lots of wall posts. At the same time, it does draw some of us closer who wouldn’t normally be so. A colleague from a few years ago recently joined Facebook, so naturally I friended him. We sent a message or two back and forth and just today he stopped into my work to say hello. Facebook seems to be more effective when we use it for networking and developing connections with people we are not already close to, not for staying connected to those with whom we are already closely linked. Its the balance of using it for its benefits, but not, as you say, becoming overly reliant.

    “I’m so sorry I forgot to wish you a happy birthday yesterday, I forgot to check my facebook!”

  47. You know, on more than one occasion I have had a friend laugh as I explain my feelings on Facebook. Yes, it connects me to childhood friends and keeps me in the loop of the people I hold near and dear and cannot see or speak to on a daily basis. The problem I have is accepting a request from someone who never really took any interest in me when they were actually standing right in front of me. Like, if you made fun of me for several years in grade school, I’m over it but, I have no desire to share my life or photos of my friends and family with you. I want that page to be like a home away from home where I connect with people who are important to me. I deny requests. Not tons of them. I mean, people are not beating down the door to get to me but when I see one from someone who I was never friends with, I am hard pressed to let them into my world. If however they sent me a message and spoke of how we never really connected but as they grew up they thought of me and how I was doing or showed some sincerity or genuine interest in how my life was going, I just might give them a shot. I enjoyed your post, thanks!

  48. While you’re at it- delete your blog and go get yourself a printing press- hater. Oh please get over yourself and hunt down an original idea instead of regurgitating an already over publicized thought. You’re a little late on the “oh face book is not a face to face thing- it’s an impersonal-izer” bla bla bla. Get a soap box, stand on it in Times Square, New York City, and ask all who pass by to stop and say hello to the person next to them- oh, but wait, then you’d mostly be talking to tourists and not many Big City New Yorkers who from a young age have been cultured to ignore each other like the plague- and who most benefit from Facebook, since they can literally pass each other in the street and not realize they were in such close proximity to each other- because thats just how it is here. And how about those who reconnect with old school friends and even long lost relatives because of sites like Fb. In your world they have no means of having ever reconnected. Sorry mom, those friends I helped you reconnect with from your childhood back in Peru, give those back- this chick over here thinks the service we used is some kind of invalid resource that’s making her some kind of fraud. I know, the nerve of her. Mom says you should deal with your own crap and let others live their lives. Delete all your non-friends, then you’ll feel better about it. If you lose networking opportunities or relationship opportunities, hey, it’s only YOUR loss then, and no one else has to be subjected to your standards.

    So in closing, are we clear on the answer to your question? No, Facebook is not a farce. You are. Your entire essay can be summarized down to a cliche- “everything in moderation” Which, I think we all know already. Try again.

    And hey, Facebook me!

    (Not clicking the “notify me of any follow up comments” box btw- have at it)

  49. I love this post! Great one! I post fake birthdays on Facebook all the time and get the best laughs from all the wishes. Next stop, fake our own funeral on Facebook and post about it!


  50. I deleted my FB account some time ago and haven’t looked back. Good observation and good experiment! My “real” friends are close to me and know when my birthday is without FB reminders🙂

    Cheers and happy un-birthday!

  51. Which is why I don’t even disclose my birthday on my profile. No thanks to the dozens of birthday wishes from people who are only saying Happy Birthday because Facebook is telling them to. And if one of the people who knows my actual birthday and posts a good wish on my page, alerting the rest of my friends, so be it.

  52. I’m not really fussed about Facebook as a social networking tool. I have a Facebook account and sometimes it can be useful. I rate it along the same lines as e-mailing and sending text messages. Interesting post, thanks for sharing.

  53. I’ve started to make a distance from Facebook myself lately. I’m even writing letters lately and tries to be more of a social being. But of course, IMing is still a part of my every day life, but I’d rather IM than Facebook, because you get to be a more “real” person there than you do on Facebook, and I feel like Facebook is just a place you go to stalk people you know and brag about yourself, making people look better at you and give people the best impressions of you. And by stalking, I mean that you can really see exactly what people’s been doing an entire day or week or month or whatever and you can watch their pictures and see who their friends are and stuff.

    But really, I’m agreeing with you and you wrote a good post🙂

  54. excellent post. greatest thing I ever heard with regards to facebook/twitter: “facebook is for friends who are strangers now and twitter is for strangers who should be your friends.”

  55. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! I respondeded immediately to your passion on this point and my take-away from your post is, don’t let facebook replace real-live connections. I also agree with other commenters in that, Facebook is what you make of it. It’s just another tool to keep in touch and communicate with people. I don’t mind friending people I don’t know as well; while it’s great for some to keep FB for a small close circle of friends, I prefer to be more open to people who are maybe NOT like me. I like seeing diversity, culture, new experiences and points of views. It broadens my horizons. Personally? I enjoy FB happy birthdays. It’s nice to be remembered at all, who cares what the format is? Honestly? I don’t get the whole tricking people with your birthday thing. That probably made some “friends” feel stupid and deceived; why is it OK to treat people that way on facebook if you wouldn’t do it in real life? I’m curious if anyone defriended you over it.

  56. I had deactivated my facebook earlier this year. Only a few of my friends had text or called me regarding my facebook disappearance.

    So, only one friend out of how many noticed it wasn’t really your birthday?

  57. Dear Madam,

    It was wrong for you to deceive your friends as part of some high-minded experiment. You started out believing Facebook to be petty and trendy, both of which it clearly is.

    What you proved is that you’re willing to alienate your friends and acquaintances to have something to say on your weblog.

    Tsk, tsk, Miss.

    Yours Truly,


  58. The ultimate skewering of Facebook, in my opinion, is in the 3rd series of the British comedy “The IT Crowd.” The episode is entitled “Friendface” and I promise as soon as you begin watching, you’ll laugh.

  59. I think this blog is so true because u can never tell if the information on the person facebook page is real or fake. Like you can not know unless they tell you themselves. Because at first facebook was only for college students, now its open to anybody. Some people even gave out fake birthdates, location, and so on. its sometimes understandble because you dont want anybody to know all your information but it is also misleading.

  60. I love your post. I actually gave up Facebook awhile back, lost all of my friends in the process. (They only communicate through FB) I gave it up for personal reasons, what I gained was an understanding that if your friends with someone on that site and give it up and never hear from them again then you weren’t really friends to begin with. I am with you totally on the birthday thing, what got me was Christmas. Who sends out Christmas cards any more? Or Birthday cards? Or Mail of any kind, I remember when I used to get letters from friends who lived far away, it was almost like a birthday getting those letters, opening them up and finding out something new, now though you check your “Wall” and hope like you said that you didn’t miss out on something important like someone dying.

  61. Honestly with the constant fear of being spied on, why even bother having a FB in the first place? If people have any for respect personal privacy and authentic social relationships, then getting a FB is a bad idea

  62. Awesome post. And I completely agree with you. I don’t know how many people would know my true birthday, and to be honest, the past 3 years my two best, closest, and longest friends have missed my birthday, even with the FB reminder. I am not sure what this says about them, other than they are busy, but they did not FB me the wishes, they did call with great regret for forgetting, but you are right about technology, if it weren’t for my google calendar, I wouldn’t remember half my friends birthdays (even though I am good with birthdays and anniversary’s).

    Nice post, congrats on being freshly pressed🙂

  63. I can’t stress how important it is for people to realize how quickly they can become addicted to facebook. I myself was reluctant to join it around 3 yrs ago, now after a couple of years of using the site I’ve activated,deleted and deactivated my profile and only respond to messages that I get notified on by email.Like those important ones where someone you’ve lost touch with wants to meet in the real world and everything else I
    ignore through email notifications. Simple and effective. I add people who provide me with their details and vice versa or else I stick to email and phone numbers and log on once ina while. You’d be surprised what else you can do with your time like jot your thoughts on here-)

  64. Interesting article !
    Many people signed up in Facebook not because it’s a social network, but because they’ve heard about it here and there. So, they decided to open an account just to follow the trend. Nothing more than that. They don’t have the concept of social network. That’s why they add anyone or accept anyone. What you’ve said is reality ! hope many draw their attention at it!
    Thanks for sharing such an experience.

  65. Very good post- and i like how your little experiment worked. It’s pretty sad commentary on the FB Farce. It’s rather like High School and the popularity contests and trivial blah blah blah.

    In fact, here is another scenario that did actually happen: My cousin died yesterday morning and her FB wall had many friends posting their sorrow at her passing. (which i thought was nice actually).
    In the the middle of all those sad comments was one person who said it had been so long since she saw her and they should get together soon!!

    FB, et al are all fine and good for sharing info (sometime TMI) but not a replacement for good, old fashioned friendship.

  66. Lots of good points. I admit, I’m very addicted to my Farce-book. I think it defintely has a place in our lives and can be a positive tool. It keeps me connected to people I love who live far away and to old friends who I lost touch with for many years and now I’ve reconnected with [whom as much as I love, I would never remember their birthdays otherwise] I agree that we need to take pause, and make a better effort to connect with as many people on a human face-to-face basis as we can. Our lack of human contact has become a casualty of our 21st Century lifestyle, I’m afriad. It’s really fair to blame / credit FB for that. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed today! Best wishes – MoSop

  67. Okay, I’ve been reading a lot of the comments, which I had not done before writing my first response. Do any of these people live in the same world I do? Are they heading out to shopping malls and restaurants and concerts only to find that they’re the only ones there, because everybody else is “on Facebook?” Woe are we to live in a time where people no longer get together for drinks on a Friday or meet to watch a movie at the theater or go to someone’s house for dinner or go hiking or fishing together or go catch a baseball game or go see concerts or plays with their FRIENDS . . .

    Oh, wait, no. All of that stuff still happens, and happens with just as much frequency as ever. And you know what? Many people made their dinner plans via Facebook. Many of them found out about that concert because one person bought tickets then posted the link for everyone else to see it.

    So what’s all the fuss about?

    Everyone is just reacting against a trend because that’s what has happened with every trend ever. Many people get into it, some of them over do it, and some retaliate angrily towards it. The reality is that Facebook is a great tool when it’s used the way it should be. Don’t give me the whole “true friends wouldn’t need something like Facebook to remind them of keeping in touch” crap. Have you ever had a friend change schools? Change churches? Move across the country? A close co-worker change jobs? There are people in our lives that we would rather not lose contact with, but circumstances don’t allow for it to be easy. Social Networking has made this simpler. And what about people you see regularly? Well now they don’t have to make six or seven phone calls when getting people to go see a movie, or be unsure if someone’s going to make it since they couldn’t get a hold of them. Now they’re in touch (ever so slightly, via posted links and status updates, etc.) throughout the week rather than just every other Saturday.

    But hey, maybe that’s just me. Maybe I don’t live on the same planet as everyone else. Maybe there really is this massive anti-social epidemic where all of you live. And you know what? I’m glad I’m not there.

    1. I agree with you on the point that Facebook is a great tool as long as people use it appropriately🙂

      I think a lot depends on the social circle a person is in. If you are in one where your Friends use it wisely, then you will get the best of it. But if you happen to have a larger proportion of Friends who do not use it as appropriately, then things will be very different.

      1. But that comes back to the fact that if you’re in a circle of friends who think that Facebook Chat is as valid human interaction as hanging out at a friend’s house, the problem isn’t Facebook.

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  69. LOVE THIS.

    So true, I might even steal this idea and figure out how many “true” friends are on my list as well. Great analysis, and well said.

  70. Actually, it doesnt only happen to facebook. I had this experience (the time when Friendster is much more crave). A few of my new accepted friends in Friendster greeted me happy birthday in the office (that time I was only a few months old at the company), and I am wondering why since it is not my birthday. I was told that they’d seen it in my friendster profile. I then smiled and tell them that date was not accurate (I don’t know why the date I hade entered on my profile was different what was being viewed by my friends, I forgot to double check it when I submitted my profile).
    Right now, since I can’t remember all the birth dates of my love ones, I just save them in the calendar of my cellular phone in an advance warning so that I could prepare treat for them.

  71. I’m not a big Facebook user. I opened an account because friends kept nagging me to, the same friends who know my phone number & e-mail addy but never bother to check on my ‘status’ that old-fashioned, more private way. Anyhey, great post.

  72. I use a false birthday on FB to avoid identity theft. It’s only off by a week so it’s not too hard on my friends but enough to derail anyone wanting to use my name and birthday to steal my id. Go ahead, keep the false birthday.

  73. I can identify with this story! I have a friend who deliberately registered a false birthday just for the fun of it. When the false birthday started showing up on the home page, he started getting greetings from even people he worked with. I suppose he was having too much fun to say it was not really his birthday, so I put an end to the farce by telling everyone that the guy’s birthday is another date altogether. Not just a few people felt sheepish after I commented on one of the greetings, I’m afraid to say.

    I myself do not rely on FB. There are some people whose birthdays I remember for the simple reason that I have known them long enough to do so. I also keep a database of anniversaries on my phone which alarm on the anniversary dates. Frankly, I hardly even look at the birthdays on FB and get annoyed by “Happy Birthday God Bless” streaming down the News Feed. Those who really care will call.

    Rex Raymond

  74. hey dear!!
    before playing such tricks and reaching to any conclusion just get into their shoes. Ask from ur own self, as to how many birthdays does it remember…..
    Earlier, I used to remember every birthday, everyy phone no. and every anniversary…../,.but due to the advancement in technology I too have advanced and have stopped putting an unnecesary burden of memorizing those dates over myself. Reminders in cell phones always remind me at the right time……
    Anyways, I can very well feel your agony when you were wished for your false birthday…… and such posts can be expected from somebody in such pain……. Thanks for reminding me of something I had never expected could hapen……..
    Happy writing. Sunny

  75. I personally have a little datebook that I write every single little thing in. That means birthdays, when I work, for how long, when I punch out, how many clients I have, ect. I’ve always loved to have a little datebook and will always have one instead of a digital one. And, I’m just not interested in Facebook.

  76. I changed my birthday for security concerns when the facebook database kept getting corrupted. Similarly, I received tons of birthday wishes. Then I started picking a historical date every month and changing my birthday. Still the wishes rolled in. Why won’t facebook let me delete my birthday? I should be able to choose which information I include. Well, at least I don’t have to put my SSN down.

  77. My husband did the same thing on Facebook this year. His birthday was in July and he changed it to the 1st of September. It was insane that almost all of the people who had wished him a happy birthday in July also wished him a happy birthday in September. I think his siter and myself were the only ones who did not. It’s sad but what you said is true, we get so busy, have so many “friends” that if your computer moniter says it’s so and so’s birthday then it simply must be.
    Sincerly A semi-reformed Facebook addict and current Twitterolic🙂

  78. This is so true. A lot of people are addicted to Facebook that they spent hours and hours in front of it. Instead of being with their friends, they prefer Facebook-ing. Friendship will be more special if small facts are remembered, not Facebook reminding it to us.

  79. Loved this post! I have to say I would have no idea when my fb friends birthdays were if it didn’t remind me!! …. and if I am truthful….I wouldn’t really care!! So why send them best wishes just because the little box up on the top right guilts me into it!!??

  80. What a great post. I’ve never signed on to Facebook and have no intention of ever having one. Technology has made a lot of things easier but it’s also ruining other things, mostly REAL communication with other human beings. I’ve lost track of the amount of people who get on these sites and “collect” friends as if it were a competition. I may not have 500 “friends” but the true friends I do have really know me, and I know them. I think the only benefit to social sites such as Facebook is to keep in touch with others who are abroad. In this case, I think it can be a useful as it’s faster than old fashioned snail mail. Congrats for being on Freshly Pressed.

  81. I am pretty over FB at this point. I went through my list of ‘friends’ and asked myself, would I call this person to hang out if we were in the same city? If I said no they were deleted.
    If someone from my 5th grade class asks to be my friend, I’ll give it two weeks, If they don’t bother to follow up a friend request with some other type of communication, they are gone as well. I don’t need, nor do I want to know all about every person I have ever crossed paths with.

    In other words: Put some clothes on!

  82. Facebook friends are not real “friends”, they are just people connected to you and getting your updates. This is very different than “real life friends”.

    Thanks for remembering this point to us in this post.


  83. What a beautiful last line. That sentiment will stay with me, thank you for it. – From someone who has managed to not have a Facebook page despite lots of nagging from friends!!!

  84. How well do we know the people who are our Facebook friends if we need technology to remind us about things about them<——– this is very TRUE…. i also put fake information on facebook (to hide my true identity as well). I remember last year, i have put a fake information about my bday and it was january 4, so many people greet me. Was just laughing about it. Even my closest friend who is just a block away from our house greet me and went to our house with a present. Was i surprised? YES… she forgot my bday… Should i be mad? ahmm, yep a little bit. Forgetting the bday is a very big question to your friendship. SO SAD…..

  85. I don’t know. I think Facebook is great. Because I’ve lived all over the place, Facebook allows me to connect and talk with people who I wouldn’t be able to call on the phone. So, I have mixed feelings about this post.

  86. Even close friends can forget your birthday. Not everyone can remember dates. Facebook saves people from forgetting the birthdays of their friends. Your little test would’ve made some of your closest friends feel undervalued just because they didn’t remember your birthday. And birthdays don’t hold the same significance for everyone.

  87. GREAT article! Loved it immensely! Tempted to do the same. I think we get to reliant on social networking sites and we miss out on the physical connection with people. I miss that. Not a big phone talker, but it sure would be nice to get that random call to know someone truly is thinking about me, not just reminded about me because of some random FB post. Thanks!


  88. You make a valid point. Even more worryingly, earlier this year I only found out that somebody very close to me was ill and in hospital because their children put it in their Facebook statuses; nobody had actually called me to let me know what was happening. Frightening that a service like Facebook can have such power over people (although I’ll confess to spending more time on it than I should!).

  89. cool off man,remembering birthdays are not really a big deal,i only know my mom & dad’s birthdays.not a big deal. by the way it’s so thoughtful to put a fake birth date in face book in order to refuse identity theft.

  90. I agree that Facebook often prevents us from forming those intimate human connections. But when you find a friend from third grade, or when you’re tagged in an album titled “fond memories”, it really evokes the most human emotions possible.
    There’s something awesome about being wished on Facebook for your birthday, relationship status or whatever else. It’s true that the ones who care about you will call you, but at the same time wishing someone even on Facebook is a choice. A person chooses to wish you and that means there is some genuine

  91. Facebook is a good tool to use if executed in the right way. It’s excellent to stay in touch with friends that have moved further away to college or whatnot, but it’s pointless if you add anyone who friend requests you. Facebook isn’t MySpace in that way. Whoever determines to add as many people as they can for the friend count is their business, but it’s up to the user to decide whether or not that’s the direction they are going to go.

  92. I changed my birthday to September (it’s really in June) and people I knew for 10+ years wished me a happy birthday. Yet on my real birthday, not a single one of them said a word to me. No happy wishes on my real birthday, but plenty on a fake one? Hmm.

    1. Well, if I were them, I would now no longer wish you a happy birthday ever.

      Not everyone is good at remembering dates and not everyone keeps a personal Rolodex of all their friends’ birthdays. I bet most of them thought to themselves “Huh, I would have sworn her birthday was in June. I guess I was wrong,” because they assume that you know your birthday better than they do.

      If you set up traps to test whether people are really your friends, soon none of them will be.

      1. My point is: None of them knew better. No one mentioned my birthday when it was my real birthday. Therefore, your point is null (in this case).

        Knowing someone’s birthday does not qualify anyone as a “real” friend. Nor does not knowing disqualify someone. This is about how reliant some people become on Facebook and how easily people assume everything on there is correct.

        People who have known me for 10 years should remember at least the season my birthday is in. The fact that they so blatantly ignored me when I said (back in June) “Today is my birthday,” yet immediately wished me a happy birthday when Facebook told them the wrong date shows that they pay closer attention to what Facebook says than what I say.

        Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of the social network? Don’t we use Facebook to keep in touch and communicate? If people don’t read the things you say, then why bother saying anything at all?

  93. On the flip side, I love the fact that facebook allows me to keep in touch with family members who are scattered all across this country. While we have a family list that shows all of our birthdays and anniversaries, I often don’t look at it each day and, without facebook, would miss the opportunity to wish a cousin a happy birthday.

    That said, I almost feel obligated to wish someone a happy birthday only because I saw the notification on facebook. Often times, it is someone that without facebook, I wouldn’t even bother. But, they wished me a happy birthday and, now, I feel like I should return the favor. I have lots of “friends” that hadn’t spoken to me in twenty years or more, but wanted to be my “friend” on facebook. I accepted only to not hurt their feelings, but now, I know more about them then I ever cared to know. I do a lot of hiding of people in my news feed, because I could care less what they’re working on or going.

    Whoa! I guess I needed to get that off my chest! Sorry for the long winded comment, but I did like your article.

    1. If you hide all those people from your feed, why still have them as your ‘friends?’

      I do wish you could input your friends’ birthdays yourself, and have facebook only remind you of those. That way, if/when people wish you a happy birthday, anniversary, etc, you know it’s because they already knew it and input the date. It feels a bit more genuine that way.

      However, surely these people with thousands of friends wouldn’t want to take the time to input said data. That would be a pain for those with a large pool of friends, whereas for people like me who have few but close friends, it would work out great. Different people, different uses.

  94. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of the social network?

    Yes, lying on Facebook defeats the purpose of having Facebook, just as lying to your friends defeats the purpose of having friends.

    Since you put the date into Facebook yourself, you said that date was your birthday, just as much as if you’d told someone face to face. So people who assume you are telling the truth and not trying to trick them assume that it’s correct.

    I’m pretty sure the reason no one wanted to double-check by asking you which date is actually your birthday is because they know you’re a judgmental person who would consider them bad friends for not already knowing the answer.

    1. Calling me judgmental is a bit silly, don’t you think? You know nothing about me, so in this case, you’re the one passing judgment on me. I passed judgment on no one, I simply performed an experiment to see how many people paid closer attention to Facebook than to the people they consider their “friends.” Just as the author of this blog post did.

      As it turns out, most people who can view my FB listen solely to FB and not to me. This is a conclusion brought forth from an experiment. I am not saying anything about who they are or judging them as people beyond the fact that they don’t seem to pay much attention to me.

      This also goes along with the fact that they have been saying for quite some time that they “miss me” and we need to “hang out” next time I’m in town. Yet as soon as I tell them “I’m in town this weekend” they suddenly forget out to respond. Perhaps just a coincidence, but after it happens half a dozen times, I’m apt to believe otherwise.

      Frankly, I don’t see why you’re getting so upset over this. My Facebook is full of false information because I don’t like having my personal info out there on the Internet. If people want to know more about me, they have to go the old-fashion way — via conversation.

      1. Dude, you wrote the thing on facebook. It’s still you, just like your comments on this blog are you. So if the information contradicts what you said, that’s you contradicting yourself, and anybody who doesn’t know your “everything on facebook is a lie” policy isn’t going to know which number to believe.

        I am not saying anything about who they are or judging them as people beyond the fact that they don’t seem to pay much attention to me.

        Yup, judgmental. Also whiny.

        If people want to know more about me, they have to go the old-fashion way — via conversation.

        The thing is, your friends don’t necessarily know this, since you’re the type of person who passive-aggressively sets ploys to find things out, rather than just telling them. If you don’t want to be on facebook, just leave facebook. Certainly don’t fault your friends for assuming you are being honest when you’re not.

        P.S. You’re not encouraging anyone to want to know more about you. Your friendship may not be as much of a commodity as you think.

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