Today is my birthday, but instead of feeling cheery, I'm feeling stressed. Because along with confronting the harsh questions that come with turning a year older — Is it OK that I live in an apartment I can touch end-to-end with my arms outstretched? Why was it so difficult to find three friends to agree to go to dinner on my birthday? Is now the right time to start Propecia? — I have an even harder question to answer:
Do I have to acknowledge every fucking person who writes "Happy birthday!" on my Facebook wall?
To be clear, I'm not mad at the people who wrote "Happy birthday!" on my wall. I love the people who wrote "Happy birthday" on my wall.
I'm mad at Facebook, because Facebook is doing what it does best: manipulating my emotions. Facebook is creating a false reality the same way Facebook makes me believe that all of my friends are dining al fresco on a beach in St. Bart's while I'm sitting at the counter in Chipotle. Facebook is trying to convince me that I have hoards of people who care about my birthday, and that they totally would have remembered had Facebook not sent a notification reminding them.
Now Facebook is making me confront one more difficult question in my life, and I just don't know the answer.
I have five options:
1. I can like each post.
But that's like giving out a trophy for participation. I can do better.
2. I can comment "Thank you!" or "Aw, thank you!" after each post.
How mechanical. How disingenuous.
3. I can write a personalized comment to each one.
No way! Some of these people I wouldn't even recognize on the street — why should I acknowledge each one personally?
4. I can write one single "Thanks to all who wished me a happy birthday!" at midnight.
Who am I to pretend my time is more valuable than everyone else's?
5. I can ignore everyone.
But then everyone will know that I'm an asshole!
Clearly this is an impossible decision. I asked my coworkers for help:
Clearly, there was a great divide. So we threw it to Twitter:
Clearly, Twitter was even more divided. Can no one help me?
So I ask you, I beg of you — give me a clear answer: Do I have to acknowledge every fucking person who wrote "Happy birthday!" on my wall?