Billions Of Twins

One of my first male friends shared my birthday, when we were about six; then there was Alex at school who also did (and does still). We had a sort-of joint thing once, by which I mean that I went to her birthday thing and some people gave me presents too and then I didn’t have to do any organising myself. Good work. And then we went to college and met not one, not two, but three people who also shared our birthday. And now I am living, next year, with a guy who also shares that birthday but is, I believe, a year younger than me. So happy birthday to all those concerned!

As you can imagine, if you’re about my age and have facebook, my wall is filled with congratulations on my birthday. Some of those are from people I haven’t spoken to in ages and people I never knew that well in the first place and I wonder if that’s just some kind of reflex reaction – see birthday notifications, send good wishes. I’m sure, however, that it’s all very well-meant. Some of those people I’ve not spoken to in ages are people I’m very glad to have heard from and I would probably do the same, even if the messages themselves are a bit generic, how many different things can you say about a birthday? Happy birthday, have a lovely day, have a good one, have one on me, have you got anything good planned for tonight, then? Then there’s the more old-fashioned Many Happy Returns, and then one friend (who I really haven’t seen in a long while and would really like to, when I’m a bit less busy in a few days, definitely, plan) who has reminded me that I am now old enough to adopt a child and hire a car in a foreign country, possibly even at the same time. Excellent.

Other people, whose congratulations are equally as bland, are indeed very good friends. So thank you to those too. And other people have used my birthday as an excuse to get back in touch and start talking about meeting up, to which, yes, if you’re reading this, absolutely.

So although I was tempted to get all curmudgeonly and bitch about how on your birthday, on facebook, millions of people you barely remember, and don’t mind forgetting, decide to get in touch to say something mindlessly dull about a day that really doesn’t matter that much to me. But actually, most of those greetings have put a smile on my face. I’ve been reminded of friends who are currently in wholly the wrong country, people who have been away or busy, or I’ve been away or busy, and however much we mean to meet up, catch up, it keeps not happening but that doesn’t mean that the thought’s not there.

So what I’m really saying is that, where it’s truly meant well, as an expression of friendship cherished and or memories well-loved, thank you. Really, I do mean that, despite the next paragraph.

I’m not into mindless giving of birthday wishes and this is where I think facebook is a bit weird, this obsessive collecting of ‘friends’, and there are plenty of people I’d not have on my friends list but deleting them is so final, if they found out it would be a rather complicated social slight and basically I can’t be bothered with making waves and upsetting people just because I really don’t remember or care about the last time we spoke but you might. Yes. Curmudgeonly, I told you. And, well, deleting people, even with Dom’s helpful list, is still a bit tedious.

Another thought I’ve just had is this: it’s kind of surprising how quickly one year or two have gone by and suddenly you think, when was the last time I saw X? And then you do, you have lunch, and it’s like you were never away. Or it’s awkward as arse. After all, this ain’t When Harry Met Sally.



Filed under Friendship, Internet, Life, Society, University

6 responses to “Billions Of Twins

  1. Awww well, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    21 eh? That’s as old as me!

    I never used to have my birthday on facebook as I’ve never trusted them with personal information like that (quite hard to open a bank account with dob details that aren’t right).

    However, a friend of mine did conduct an experiment where he set his birthday to february-ish (it’s in July and hence he’s older than you… hey wait, I’ve realised your a baby of our academic year!… anyway, concentrate…) and the result was: you guessed it, his wall was filled with happy birthday comments.

    So I support your hypothesis that it is like a reflex action and that people put too much trust in the data on the site actually being valid. If you don’t know the person, I’m sure that’s fair enough but if you do very well… problemo!

    To be quite honest, there are very few people in my past I’d like to meet up with again. Not that they’re bad people or I dislike them but rather times have moved on, we’re different people and I’m in touch with those I can be anyway. Ideally, I wouldn’t need to reconnect with old friends but hey, life’s not perfect. I’m happy with the memories. There’s some people, for example, I’d rather just explicitly move on from (exes and the like).

  2. Jenny

    There are reasonably few people from my past I want to meet up with too, but you have to remember we moved out of the area where I went to college, just after I left college – so that most of my friends went off to uni and were only around in the holidays, and it wasn’t easy for me to get back to see them, or for them to come over and see me, in the limited holiday time we had, given the amount of complicated travel I’d have had to’ve done. Petersfield was OK but it was the outlying villages with two buses a day from towns which don’t themselves have stations – getting back to some places would’ve cost an absolute bomb and taken about three hours. And the local city where everyone used to go to go to restaurants the cinema would necessitate me going almost to London from here before I could change traisn and get to that city – costly, and takes ages, and you have to leave realy early to get back without being stranded half way waiting for a train which won’t get in until about half five in the morning. So there are people who I really haven’t seen more than once or twice since I moved, some not even that. Some people who I really don’t want or need to see again, but one or two who I miss. Well, I can think of about four people to whom that applies. Two of them I am meeting for lunch in about a week :).

    It does really annoy me that some people really *can’t* move on and facebook allows them to not move on even more easily. It also really annoys me how facebook is such a feature of the student life. I basically use it to keep in touch with a small group of people (we’ve had a message thread going since we went to uni), organise church and music things at uni, and obviously for Events because grouch as much as you like it *is* a dead easy way of notifying a number of people about A Thing and then organising them all into getting to it – and if a critical mass of people are using this as a tool of communication in preference to email/phone/text/whatever then obviously facebook becomes the easiest way to do certain things.

    But I think the number of people I know doing ‘friend culls’, facebook should make it easier and quicker to delete large numbers of people e.g. by network. So I could delete, say, everyone from my old secondary school, with a tick-to-exempt box for the comparitively small number of people I still talk to from school (I probably have nearly my whole year as ‘friends’, even though even when we were at school I’d guess only about ten or twenty of those people were people who I’d consider friend enough to see out of school).

    I do wonder to what extent facebook is more of a curse than a blessing.

  3. Happy Belated Birthdate! πŸ™‚

    Facebook is a bitch. But I wouldn’t keep in touch half as well without it.

  4. S’ok, thanks to my super-powerful stalking abilities I knew that already…. πŸ˜›

    I no longer have a facebook account and haven’t done since Jan. Deleting it has been one of the best things I’ve ever done online. It’s addictive and adds little real value to one’s social life.

  5. Jenny

    I’m using fb less and less. I wouldn’t delete my account just because as far as I’m concerned it does still have some use – friends tend to use fb to organise everything from going to the pub to going on holiday and i’m worried that given how disorganised I am about checking emails (rather than getting a little red flag saying YOU HAVE BEEN INVITED TO AN EVENT, which you really can’t miss), I’ll end up missing out on things.

    To be honest my webuse these days is mainly 4od and iPlayer, a smattering of blogs, and a few webcomics. To this end I really should get into Google Reader. I imagine that if I used it more it would be the most spectacularly useful thing.

    Oh, and ogling dresses on ModCloth and Ascension.


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