Facebook greetings can mean a lot

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Despite being a member of the so-called “Youtube” generation, I have sometimes been slow to catch on to new technologies. I didn’t get my first “smart phone” until 2008, and I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to Facebook. I still haven’t joined with Twitter yet. I’m sorry, but I just can’t bring myself to use words like “h8r” and “lol” just so I can come in under the 140-character limit. There are days I can’t write a single sentence that’s less than 140 characters.

That being said, this past Sunday was my birthday and I was able to see why so many people enjoy Facebook so much. My smart phone (a Blackberry Curve that’s probably about three years out of date) is set up to vibrate and chime anytime I get a notification from Facebook. For those of you who don’t know much about Facebook, a notification could be anything like someone who wants to be my “friend” or someone who has posted a message on my “wall.” A wall is a bulletin board of sorts, where people can leave you notes and messages throughout the day.

Anyway, from the time I woke up Sunday, until the time I laid back down asleep, my phone was constantly buzzing and chiming. Almost always, it was from people in my Facebook friends list leaving me a “happy birthday” message. I got birthday greetings from old college friends, from people who I met in previous newspaper towns, from family members, and even from elementary-school and high-school friends back home in Gadsden, Ala. I have to be honest, I didn’t really expect that I would get as many greetings as I did. It really cheered me up. It’s hard to have a birthday in a new town where your family is miles away and you haven’t had a lot of time to make a lot of new friends yet. Also, I was still trying to get over a minor cold and wasn’t feeling 100-percent healthy so I wasn’t in the mood to be very active. Each of those simple “happy birthday” messages was like a birthday present or hug.

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Now, I know that Facebook is set up to automatically remind you of when friends’ birthdays are coming up, but that doesn’t matter to me. It matters that all those people still took the time out of their lives to type something up, no matter how small or simple. I know a lot of people say that Internet “friends” aren’t really friends because writing a text message to someone isn’t the same as speaking to them face-to-face. And while I agree with that point, I would also argue that it’s a great way to communicate with your friends even when they’re miles away and you don’t have time for a phone call. Because of Facebook, I was able to get “happy birthday” greetings from people all over this country, from California to Maine.

Those messages really made me smile. And I mean the real kind, not this virtual kind —  : – ).

Justin Schuver is the managing editor of The Post-Searchlight. You can email him at justin.schuver@thepostsearchlight.com.