Facebook's birthday reminders have become an invaluable tool for the socially inattentive among us. If you're a person who has trouble remembering your son's birthday -- even when it's the same day as your own -- the periodic reminders that crop up beside your news feed on the social network can be a godsend.
Unless, of course, they are an insidious mechanism helping to destroy the world of meaningful human interaction as we know it.
He repeatedly reset the date of his birth on his Facebook page so that
he celebrated three "birthdays" in the month of July. (His actual
birthday, he tells us, is in January.) This oddity raised few red flags
among his many Facebook "friends," many of whom repeatedly sent him
online birthday wishes, unaware of his ruse.
What, exactly does this reveal? According to Plotz:
Mass electronic communication is destroying our memories, since we rely on devices to protect us from embarrassing ourselves. I routinely send an email to a friend on a Tuesday, and then send her exactly the same email on Thursday. Even so, the Facebook fake birthday experiment did end up confirming my worst fears about the network. All too many birthday wishes are autonomic, sent without thought or personal feeling. It's one thing to remember your friend's birthday because you took him out a decade ago for his drunken 21st birthday debauch. It's much lamer to "remember" your friend's birthday because Facebook told you to. A significant number of Facebookers clearly use the service without sentiment, attempting to build social capital--undeserved social capital--with birthday greetings that they haven't thought about based on birthday memories of you that they don't actually have.