Let’s face it Facebook birthdays can be fun but they can also be confusing to decipher, so here’s a little help getting through the quagmire of Facebook birthday messages.
There are no fewer than five categories of birthday greetings/greeters on Facebook. The first birthday salutation, which I call the “bare basics birthday greeting”, is the most rudimentary of the birthday greetings. It is a simple and unvarnished, “Happy Birthday” or “HBD.” It may leave you with the feeling that, although the greeter wants to wish you a happy birthday, they’re not fully committed to the task. This greeting is almost transferable in its anonymity except for the fact that it’s written on your wall, on your birthday. Although this, the simplest and most impersonal of all greetings doesn’t take a tremendous amount of thought, it’s still lovely that someone took a moment out of his/her day to say happy birthday to you.
You can expect this type of greeting from new friends, friends from long ago with whom you’ve lost contact, friends who have not quite figured out how they feel about you, and virtual friends, among others. If your husband/wife pens this type of birthday wish for you, consult a divorce lawyer as soon as possible.
The next level of greeting is, “Happy Birthday, (insert your name here).” This type of post is a step up from the bare basics birthday greeting because the use of your name clearly indicates that this greeter has definitely thought about you as they had to figure out your name before posting. I think this birthday salutation exhibits a much higher level of skin in the game with regards to your birthday celebration.
Next up is what we’ll call the additional sentence post. These posts say, “Happy birthday (your name)” and then an additional sentence follows that salutation. The follow-up sentence generally says, “Have a nice day or, “Have a great day” or “I hope it’s a good one.” These two sentence posters deserve a bit more praise than category one and two posters. After all, these posters have gone the extra mile, in wishing upon you not only a happy birthday but also a great or happy day. This type of message requires serious thought and you’re not going to send this type of greeting to just anyone.
As an aside I think this is the perfect spot to mention a subcategory of the “additional sentence” poster, those who wish you a “Happy, happy birthday or just “Happy day” or Happy, happy, happy.” It seems to me that these posters also deserve a tad more credit because they took the time to wish you that extra modicum of happiness.
At the top of the birthday greeter’s pyramid are, of course, those of your friends who mention something that is personal to you, post a picture with you in it or mention that they love you. I call these posters the “whole enchilada” posters because those in this sub-group have heart and soul committed to your birthday festivities. You should expect this type of greeting from people with whom you have an intimate relationship, but be forgiving of those close to you who struggle with this kind of Facebook intimacy especially if they are over 45. Kids these days seem to have endless pictures of their friends and are rarely self-conscious about expressions of love. They are also free with the use of superlatives so that every friend is the best and the prettiest. We older folks just are not as good with that kind of thing.
Finally there remains the etiquette of how to appropriately respond to Facebook birthday greetings. My 18-year-old son says there is a simple rule, everyone or no one. In my case if you have jumped the gun and begun the day by liking the first few posts individually, you can really get yourself into heaps of trouble because when the greetings start pouring in you just can’t continue liking them all. My best advice is to resist the initial impulse to like and to wait until the end of the day and then offer a blanket thanks.