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WTF, Internet? Facebook’s congratulatory overload is giving me a guilt complex

WTF, Internet? Facebook's congratulatory overload is giving me a guilt complex

Since the beginning of time, birthdays have been a source of great anxiety. I think I can say with some confidence that people been stressin’ about what in god’s name they’re going to get their wives, brothers, dads, cousins, dogs way back before there were a plethora of digital reminders being thrown in our faces.

As much as I have no desire to time travel to the past (future baby, it’s all about the future – I’ll take a floating house and rocket ship over some caveman noise any day), I do envy our ancestors the ability to actually forget someone’s birthday. Because that’s where the Facebook congratulations guilt begins: With birthdays. Seriously, if you are a functioning person with a smartphone or computer and a Facebook account (maybe you’re way too cool to have Facebook, way to go, good for you, do you want a medal?), you know when it’s someone’s birthday. You know because of the approximate 75 “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!” posts for the respective birthday boy or girl filling up Facebook.

Nobody wants to get a calendar reminder for “The first time we went to brunch with my parents!” date, or “The annual first day of Fall party!” soiree.

It’s been a hallmark of Facebook since launch: That subtle, passive aggressive reminder in the upper right hand corner alerting you that it is indeed the day of birth of someone you know and that yes, you should probably say something about it. Originally this wasn’t a huge deal because you weren’t friends with everyone and their mom. You were friends with … you know … your friends. It wasn’t weird or unnatural to wish the girl that lived across the hall or that guy you became friends with during freshman seminar a happy birthday.

But now far too many of us have hundreds, maybe thousands of friends. Most people find massive defriending purges a drain or heavy-handed and opt for the “don’t show me the useless crap from this person” method of cleansing their News Feeds. But that means all those randos are going to pop up in the birthday alert section. And then you get to feel like a jerk when you have to decide who gets a meaningless “happy birthday!” post from you and who doesn’t.

That’s just one part of the guilting nonsense Facebook is sending our way, because now – now! – it’s not just birthdays that require our attention. Engagements, new babies, new jobs, new relationship statuses, everything is worthy of acknowledgement! Yes, seriously, you are prompted not only to acknowledge someone’s new boyfriend but … to give them a gift as well.

Allow me to present the evidence: I recently got an alert about a Facebook friend’s new “life event.” Which, Facebook, I’d like to call you out on – talk about pressure on a new relationship! Life event!? Little clingy, aren’t we? You might to need to check yourself there. Reel it in.

WTF Internet 07_07_2013 facebook giftsBut sure, OK, great – good for her! Get it girl! I do want to mention it’s incredibly weird that people comment with “good for you!” sentiments on this type of post; an engagement or marriage post? OK fine, sure, that’s a big deal – a new boyfriend or girlfriend? Let’s all just calm down a little on the over-congratulation. Furthermore, if someone said to me “congratulations on snagging a significant other!” it sort of feels like it’s a big shocker someone could be cool with dating me. So maybe let’s reserve a little of this, shall we?

So that’s just one half of it: Facebook is going overboard with the “this deserves your attention and comments” post placement. But now, the gifts. Oh, the gifts. Every time you wish someone a happy birthday or tell them congrats on that new baby they … birthed … Facebook’s all “oh those words are nice but you know what would actually show you care? A $25 Starbucks card!”

Those occasions are gift-giving occasions at least, but apparently so is dating someone. Yes, my friend’s new beau deserves a “$10-$100 Target card.” I’m sorry, what’s that now? What would I even write in the message with that gift card? “So happy to see you’re getting some, stock up on the essentials! Love, Molly.”

No, Facebook. No. You need a reality check on all this: What’s a “life event,” how many birthday well-wishers I really need to see in News Feed, and what is deserving of digital presents. You’re like an over-eager sorority girl who’s marking a calendar up with all the non-essential anniversaries and theme parties that must be celebrated and planned. Nobody wants to get a calendar reminder for “The first time we went to brunch with my parents!” date, or “The annual first day of Fall party!” soiree.

Sweet Brown, I’ll let you take it from here: