Birthday Wishes in the Digital Age

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TIME magazine weighed in on birthdays last month with its 6 Rules for ‘Happy Birthday’ Etiquette in the Age of Facebook. Karol Markowicz claims “Facebook has changed the whole birthday game.” She notes remembering the day is no hardship since you’ll get an alert and a follow-up from Facebook. You know you’ll probably see several other friends posting about the birthday on your newsfeed too.

She says “social media should be complementary to other kinds of interaction, not in place of it.” Her advice? Say something at midnight to someone really special. If you’re a sibling you might also call at midnight. Call friends and family on the day. Prefer a call, but texting is OK, for new friends. Posting on Facebook is TIME approved only for old acquaintances with whom you only keep up via social media.

Personally I can’t believe any etiquette involves calling someone at midnight. I love my birthday more than most, but I don’t need calls in the wee hours. Sleep is my first birthday present to myself!

She also makes no mention of sending an actual birthday card. You remember those? They’re paper with folds and often have a funny sentiment inside. You stamp an envelope that goes in the mail (snail mail even!).

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We get so little mail that matters these days. Spend the few bucks to send a birthday card to someone who makes you smile.

BTW, you can even order paper greeting cards online these days. Or rely on e-cards if you really must. Michael Bolton is not the only answer.

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