My birthday was last month, and the night before, I was up late surfing the web, and I decided to stay up until midnight to see the automated “happy birthday” messages I figured would come in. And just like clockwork, at 12:01 am, a half-dozen automated messages, mostly from online forums to which I belong, or online merchants with which I have done business, came in wishing me a happy birthday.I know it sounds a little silly and self-centered, but it just feels good to have total strangers wish you happy birthday. Maybe I’m just easy to please.
Later in the day, more of these automated messages came in, and by the end of the day, I probably had a dozen or more of them in my inbox. Most were just little boilerplate things, and they were certainly generated by the personal information I entered when I created a profile on their site. (Lead gen matters in more than life insurance and annuity sales, it would appear.) But still, I appreciated the small amount of effort these things represented.
Meanwhile, over on Facebook, I got a flood of birthday wishes. I’ve currently got some 400 friends on FB (Feel free to send me a friend request over there; there aren’t that many Bill Coffins to choose from) and more than 100 of them stopped to take the time to wish me happy birthday. After a while, it starts to feel overwhelming. It’s just a birthday, after all, and not even a particularly meaningful one. But the phenomenon was, as one of my work colleagues mentioned, proof of how many people out there really mean to wish you well. What an affirmation that is. Facebook, of course, realizing that it’s going to take you all night to respond to such messages, simply routes all such things to a single thread of messages on your Facebook wall. The custom now is for folks to fire off a single post thanking everybody for wishing them happy birthday. Strangely, this tends to kick off another wave of well-wishing as anybody who didn’t do so before either realizes it now and makes up for it, or perhaps they feel guilty. The point is, it is now ridiculously easy to surround yourself with well-wishing on your birthday, if you so choose. And it is just as ridiculously easy to pass along a little note to folks to tell them to have a great day. It takes so little effort. And it means so much more to the person.