Do You Believe In A Birthday Greeting Hierarchy?

Way back in the stone age when I was a kid, there were only a handful of popular ways you could wish someone a happy birthday. There was the face-to-face method. There was the tried and true phone call. And there was the always-thoughtful greeting card. These days, with email, text messaging, e-cards, and social networking, our options are a little more extensive, which begs the question: What’s the appropriate hierarchy of birthday greetings (or, perhaps it begs another question: Why does everything have to be so complicated?)?Rachel, over at the blog MWF Seeking BFF, breaks it down like this: “Facebook wall posts are at the bottom of the totem pole”; “emails and texts are for casual friends”; “close friends and BFFs deserve a phone call.” She adds:

“I would rather a close friend simply forget my birthday than opt to go the Facebook route. I’ve forgotten friends’ birthdays before. I never feel good about it. But there have been instances where I was so harried that I never registered what day it was. And often on weekends I don’t look at a calendar at all. When my close friends simply forget, I don’t get mad or hurt. I know how life can get. It’s not personal. But if someone who holds bestie status remembers my birthday and consciously decides to go the Facebook route… Well, then I’d probably feel the sting.”

Personally, I don’t see what the big whoop is. It’s a birthday — we all have them. Every year. Once you’re out of, like, grade school it’s time to get over the sting of someone, save for perhaps your significant other or immediate family members, forgetting your birthday or not acknowledging it in the “appropriate way.” Of course, it’s always nice to be thought of on your special day, and I happen to be one of those people who make it a point to remember people’s birthdays and call or send a card or a message, but even I can get caught up in the busyness of life and sometimes don’t remember until the day after that I’ve missed someone’s birthday. Does that make me a thoughtless person? Maybe. But I’d hope an occasional absent mind wouldn’t discount all the other ways in which I show support and love for a friend.

As for the hierarchy of the greeting, again, I have to call bullocks on the whole thing. People have their preferred method of communicating. I’m not going to think less of a close friend if he or she leaves a Facebook wall message as opposed to calling me. Isn’t it nice to know you’re being thought of at all? What difference does it make how you’re being alerted that you’re in someone’s thoughts? If a person is a real friend, there are likely so many other ways she has “proved” her loyalty already. And if there aren’t? If I’m using my freakin’ birthday as a test to see who’s true or not, I’ve got issues I need to work out.

But, I’m not being completely honest here. There is a caveat to this “birthday-casual” line of thinking. I’m someone who simply doesn’t get all that worked up over her birthday — the last time I had a party to acknowledge another year gone by was when the first President Bush was in office — so, it’s easy for me to forgive others who, like me, aren’t birthday geeks. But I have friends who are birthday geeks — friends who make a big deal out of their birthday every single year. They have expensive dinners — where everyone else is expected to cover their tab — or potluck parties and it’s always a big production. So, when I go out of my way to celebrate those friends and their “special day” and then don’t get any acknowledgment at all in return on my own birthday, it does sting a little. I think: “What’s so hard about sending a quick message? A text, an email, a wall post? Something?

In the end, birthdays can be a good excuse to reach out to someone you’ve maybe fallen out of touch with, or a good reminder to tell a close someone how much you appreciate him or her in your life. But, really, isn’t it as important, if not more so, to stay in touch and treat each other well the other 364 days a year?

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