Happy Birthday to All (The Blabbbers)!

February 17, 2013

Well, January is complete. So, the first question is: Are you still sticking to your New Year’s resolutions?  The second question: When’s your birthday?

Allow me to explain … Believe it or not, my New Year’s resolution is to wish you a happy birthday. Well, that is, if you are my friend … (and have your birthday listed) on Facebook.

Now, as you may know (if you have actually read this silly blog of mine before, particularly this post), I was a huge fan of Myspace when the social networking era began. I felt this way mostly because I do not enjoy our lives being ruled by and displayed in a timeline/newsfeed manner. In order to stay up to date on Myspace, you had to proactively participate in friendships and relationships, while Facebook, and its newsfeed, which has been duplicated by practically every site, has turned our lives into ticker feeds.

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Now, that quick background information aside, let’s get back to the matter at hand. When I made the switch from Myspace to Facebook in 2008, I was shocked about how birthdays were announced on Facebook.  Based on my experiences, when we develop relationships with people that we care about, we often ask them when their birthdays are. When we know of a friend’s birthday, we make mental notes and add their birthdays to our (now digital) calendars.

Remember when we were in grade school and the daily birthday was always listed on the chalkboard? When I joined Facebook, that’s how Facebook birthdays seemed to me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful to receive birthday wishes, and, of course, it’s polite and friendly to say happy birthday to someone when you know it’s his or her birthday. However, when I joined Facebook, I couldn’t help but feel like we, as adults, were wishing each other happy birthday because Professor Facebook had scribbled our birthdays on the blackboard of the Facebook classroom. Seeing as we’d wished each other happy birthday for years (decades, millenniums) before, Professor Facebook’s birthday “chalkboard” made me unsettled, to say the least.

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It truly is fascinating to see how even unlisted birthdays can go “viral” on Facebook. For example, let’s say a Blabbber actually knows a friend’s birthday, but that friend doesn’t list his or her birthday on Facebook. If said Blabbber posts a happy birthday message on that friend’s Facebook wall, guess what then happens. Other Blabbbers who are friends with both people see it on their news feeds and chime in. Why do we feel the need to do this?

A friend of mine once purposefully posted the wrong birthday on his Facebook wall to see what would happen. Sure enough, hundreds of friends started posting birthday wishes on his wall. He thought it was a hoot. Many of his friends, when they found out the truth, did not appreciate the humor in his prank. However, this really begs us to ask the question: Why do we wish people happy birthday just because Facebook tells us to?

All that being said (and maybe still questioned), as I’ve said before in this blog, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, especially the Blabbbers. After all, that’s what this blog is all about. Questioning what we do on the Internet while being an active participant in all social antics on the Interwebs.

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I’ve come to realize that my old-fashioned stubbornness is leaving me somewhat alone online. I still believe that true friends know their friends’ birthdays without needing Facebook reminders. However, I recognize now that all those well wishes on Facebook are just that … well wishes. And what’s wrong with well wishes? Well, nothing at all. So, count me in.

I am proud to say that I plan to wish each of  my Facebook friends a happy birthday online this year. Likewise, I will  also finally list my birthday on Facebook, which I refrained from doing in the past. I look forward to sending and receiving positive energy by interacting with others online throughout the year.

In the end, my Blabbb education has reminded me that no two people do things exactly alike. People use Facebook and social media for all sorts of various reasons. Extending birthday wishing to friends is a good thing, not something worthy of any judgment … that is, unless the birthday date was fake and part of a prank.

In conclusion, I leave you with two questions.: What’s your New Year’s resolution? … And when’s your birthday?

What do you (not “u”) think about online birthdays, Blabbbers? ;)


Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie (Where The “Pie” Tastes Like “Myspace”)

May 11, 2011

Alas, poor Myspace! I knew Myspace, Horatio, a website of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. Myspace hath bore me on its cyber-back a thousand times, and now how abhorr’d in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it.

In 2006 and 2007, Myspace was dominating Facebook, and, just four years later, Myspace is practically irrelevant. As Myspace is now up for sale and the bidding has already begun, Blabbb looks back, examines and applauds the social networking website that introduced many of us to our first taste of such delicious, techno drama as: personal Internet privacy issues, children’s safety on the Internet and cyber-stalking. Yes, Horatio, I knew Myspace.

Why does Blabbb “like” Myspace so much? Because original Myspacers forged online friendships and relationships with one another by way of proactive devotion and actions. Back in 2006, 2007 and 2008, Myspace did not have any News Feeds, Photo Tags, Suggested Friends or the like. When people communicated on Myspace, it was because Myspacers actually thought of their friends and proactively clicked on their profiles in order to see what was new in their online worlds. There was a certain “personal touch” with Myspace that Facebook seems to lack. In a way, the Myspace era was the early years of techno communicating before our communications were inundated with … blabbb.

So, in honor of our ole’ pal Myspace, we thought we’d jot down a tiny list of why Myspace was better than Facebook. This list encourages us to think about how our communications have changed in just two or three years time. Again, there is no absolute techno right or wrong. In fact, new technology is never wrong, per se. It’s how we use or misuse technology that can get us into trouble. (Didn’t we learn anything from Mathew Broderick in War Games?)

 

Blabbb “likes” Myspace because …

  • No Suggested Friends. Remember when you actually selected your “friends” in real life, instead of having a computer or an Internet-addicted spouse “suggest” them via an impersonal email or an automated list? Myspacers figured out on their own who they wanted to interact with online.
  • No News Feed. If you wanted to interact with people on Myspace, you clicked on their profiles. If you wanted to see if they added new photos, you clicked on their photos to check. Myspace didn’t turn our friends’ lives into the Bottomline sports news ticker on ESPN2.

  • No Check-In’s. If you were out and about, Myspace figured you could tell whoever you wanted of your whereabouts.
  • No Badges. Seriously, will someone please let Blabbb know what a “badge” is and what you’re supposed to do with it. Because we have an idea of what you can do with “badges” …
  • No Online Games. No Farms. No Mafia Wars. No Scrabble. Gamers already had Xbox, Playstations, Wii and so forth. Then they had to invade our social networking sites, too? Really?
  • HTML Images. Myspacers actually learned the tiniest bit of HTML in order to post images on each other’s Myspace pages. Meanwhile, it seems as if all we’ve learned on FB is that Zuckerberg looks like Eisenberg and the dude who started Napster really enjoyed crushing expensive sushi and overpriced appletinis as if he was Justin Timberlake … or maybe it’s the other way around.

In all seriousness, Myspace made us proactively work at our online relationships. Myspace expanded our online communications without force-feeding us “blabbb.” Blabbb wonders: Can healthy “friendships” and “relationships” be sustained by ease and convenience? Will Facebook’s News Feeds actually separate and distance us in a certain way? How are real, healthy friendships and relationships maintained in this techno world?

We recall Julianne Moore’s character in The Kids Are All Right passionately pleading with her loving partner (played by Annette Bening), surrounded by their two children. Relationships require hard work, Moore’s character stressed. (Note: Moore’s character turns the TV off to engage in this courageous conversation.)

Are Internet relationships any different? Blabbb asks: If we look for ease and convenience in our relationships, what kind of relationships are we left with? Lots of posts on our Facebook “walls?” Is that sufficient to maintain healthy relationships?

So, Dearest Myspace, Blabbb tips its techno cap in your direction and thanks you for our original online friendships and relationships, which were maintained by hard work and dedicated actions. There was something beautiful about the hard-working Myspace community, as opposed to the lethargic, easy-way-out Facebook community.

So, bye-bye, Miss American pie.
Drove my old Myspace to the interwebs,
But the interwebs were dry.
And them good old Internet addicts were drinkin’ FB — but why? –
Singin’, “This’ll be the day that Myspace dies.
“This’ll be the day that Myspace dies …”

What do “you” (not “u”) think, Blabbbers? Blabbb away …


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