With (Facebook) friends like these
by Brian Keaney
Saturday was my sister’s wedding reception. Her second wedding reception in three months. For a marriage to the same guy. That’s a post for another time, but even though he’s been around for a couple of years now, her husband just got around to adding me as a friend on Facebook the other day.
Why have I never added him? I have a no-add policy on Facebook. I figure that I’m friends with the people I want to be friends with in real life, and everyone who I don’t see very often but in whose life I am interested is already a Facebook friend. Only in extremely rare occasions, such as when my childhood best friend joins, will I click the friend request button. As has been noted previously, I am just that cool.
I won’t hazard a guess as to how many or to what percentage, but a number of my Facebook friends are not friends at all. Some are former acquaintances at best. It got me thinking: how many of them know me well enough to know when my birthday is? To test it out, I changed my birthday on Facebook. Rather than pick a random day, I selected the day of my little sister’s birth. As a bonus, that way I could see how many people would wish both of us a happy birthday.
In July, 66 of my 606 friends posted on my wall to wish me a happy birthday. I don’t know what the problem with the other 90% is, but I probably don’t like them anyway. In September, slightly fewer, 54, wrote on my wall. The best part is that almost half of them, 22, wrote both times. The worst part is that someone who I would hope would remember my actual birthday wrote in September, but not in July.
Both my sisters picked up on this, and one even wrote on my wall questioning why I was stealing her birthday several weeks ago. So as to not ruin the experiment, I promptly deleted the post. A few other cousins also noticed that something was amiss, and one even facetiously mused about how he could have gone all these years without knowing that Krissy and I shared a birthday.
A couple people did recognize that September 29th wasn’t my birthday. A girl I haven’t seen since 1998 commented that she knew my birthday was a week before hers. Another who I haven’t seen much since college also knew it wasn’t my birthday, but I don’t know how she remembered that. Finally, one cousin who loves to remind me of how old I am pointed out that two birthdays in a single year must mean I am even older than previously thought. I didn’t like that one very much.
Now comes my favorite part. A total of four people, consisting of two high school classmates, including one who was a good friend at the time, one of Krissy’s classmates who I probably knew better, and a second-cousin I haven’t seen in at least a decade wrote on both our walls and wished both of us a happy birthday.
I don’t know that my experiment has any great importance, but perhaps the fact that the Ig Nobel awards were awarded on the same day as my fake birthday might be significant. Laugh at me if you will, but it makes you think.