Writing stories to pass values from one generation to the next

A Facebook Birthday Invades an Introvert’s Space

Facebook birthday

A Facebook Birthday Invades an Introvert’s Space

I’ll admit that as a bit of an introvert, there are times that I would like to turn off all social media and withdraw into a cave. A nicely apportioned man cave, mind you. Don’t get me wrong, I like people. I love speaking in front of them and having conversations with them. It’s just…

I am most stressed when the demands of my time are out of my control and coming from every direction. I need my alone time and prefer a schedule that I largely control. Social media often encroaches on that, making artificial demands of me. You see, I’m a bit OCD about regularly eliminating red notification circles. Sometimes, even though I want to learn from others, and I feel like I have something to say that will benefit others, I just want to withdraw.

Then Tuesday came along.

Facebook birthdayI Was Born: A Facebook Birthday Celebration!

Tuesday was my 49th birthday. The first 49th birthday, for real–I’m okay with aging for the most part. I controlled Tuesday’s schedule, working on an interesting landscaping project on an old home place until early afternoon. My own home place needed some TLC, so I got the Little Fella started on mowing the hard and did some work outside. Dinner was at five…all scheduled out and predictable.

However, all day long Facebook summoned me to come to its space on the interwebs and see what it had in store for me. And I was reminded of why I connected in the first place. Not the narcissistic reasons that you might expect, though. Sure, I like people noticing that I was born and joining in the celebration, but I began to notice more than a stream of “Happy B-Day’s.”

I’m one of those people who “likes” every greeting. I think of the person offering said greeting and remember where and when we connected. That’s when Tuesday’s Facebook birthday became fascinating for me. I heard from

  • people I had known my whole life and many new friends I had met in the previous year.
  • people I see every day and people I haven’t seen since childhood.
  • people in my neighborhood and people on the other side of the world.
  • people with whom I’ve gone on mission trips and people I have met on those trips.
  • former classmates and former students.
  • people with funny sayings and ones with meaningful words.
  • people who prefer abbreviations, people who prefer verbosity, and others who prefer emoticons.
  • people who post on Facebook often and those who mostly lurk.

Facebook birthday greetings can be viewed from a couple of perspectives:

  1. These folks are sending Facebook birthday greetings because they received a reminder from Facebook. They’re not going to call or send a card or go to any other trouble than to type a few words. I may not cross their minds until the same reminder pops up again next year.
  2. These people have crossed my path at various times in my life, in various locations, and for varying lengths of time. In ways large and small, they have contributed to who I am today. They represent the blessings of God through their unique roles in my life. Today, they took a small moment to think of me and acknowledge my place in their lives. My life is truly richer because of their places in my story.

I choose to view each year’s Facebook birthday party with the latter perspective.

Before returning to my own hit-and-miss practice of wishing others a happy Facebook birthday on their respective special days, I want to offer public gratefulness for my friends, whether or not you socially acknowledged my birthday. As the angel Clarence said in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives.”

Thanks, Facebook, for reminding me of many of the lives that have touched mine.


About Al Ainsworth

Al Ainsworth is a values storyteller. He works with individuals, businesses, churches, and other organizations to pass along their values through the stories they tell…and re-tell.

Al is the author of Lines in the Gravel, Stories from the Roller Coaster (of a Faith Life), and the Coach Dave series. Subscribe to his email list for more values storying.

What do you think?