I don’t like forced emotions as a reflex reaction to some event. I don’t like the “Happy Birthday” song specifically because it’s the kind of kitschy melody and lyrics that outwardly give one message, but can have an entirely different meaning by the way they’re sung. The Hebrew equivalent, by contrast, is much more of a chant or rallying cry that brings you to the emotive goal rather than just bluntly saying what the goal is and hoping the singers sing it appropriately.
I’ve long proposed “Happy Birthday” be replaced as the traditional candle-blowing song in favor of “Eye of the Tiger” from Rocky.
This firm, possibly ridiculous, stance becomes a bit complicated once social media gets involved. I generally ignore Facebook birthdays (sorry everyone who I’ve never said “happy birthday” to on Facebook) because when I say happy birthday I goddamn mean it, but coming up with different words to say “I goddamn mean it” every two or three days gets insane.
I think the last time I said happy birthday to someone on Facebook, it was a person who deliberately marked the wrong date as his birthday on his profile, and who was quite surprised that I’d posted on (or near) his real one.
So I’ve figured out birthdays. Well, birthday anniversaries at least. Actual days when a person is born are rarer by a factor of about 70-80, and generally deserve more recognition. A lot of my friends now are having kids, and sometimes I really want to say *something,* but don’t know what. And when a lot of people are having kids at the same time, eventually I run out of new things to say and the only way I can think of to communicate even a portion of the message I want received is to… post Broadway lyrics? And hope they understood what I meant, or at least had their own interpretation that helped them to feel good and wasn’t mildly confusing? Weird.
All of this is less complicated when I see the people in question regularly: I have more context from which to personalize the message, and I can supplement it through other media (or, heaven forbid, actual face-to-face interaction). But Facebook poses a unique problem: there is now an entire category of people I consider “friends” who I have not physically seen in over seven years, but whom I regularly hear about through the Facebook feed, and with whom I actually would like to keep in general contact with.
So what do I do with them when I see a status I want to comment on? Is it weird to suddenly pop up out of nowhere? I can do something very simple and straightforward, but I hate simple and straightforward. And if they misinterpret me I’ll have no way of knowing and/or correcting unless they specifically let me know that I’ve been misinterpreted. My best defense against that is just adding more words, but that often dilutes what I wanted to say in the first place and is problematic on Facebook in any case.
So, on occasion I kind of have to blow things up. Just go out and give all the context together, maybe wrap it all up in the form of a blog post followed by what I actually want to say so that what I want to say feels less sudden and is understood how I want it to be understood. Hopefully.
To my high school friends Samantha Scott and Autumn Dolan: you guys are both amazing. To their new son/nephew Sterling: wishing you a happy life would be redundant considering the people you’ll be growing up around, so I’ll just wish you a healthy one.