Kurt McKee

lessons learned in production

Hey there! This article was written in 2007.

It might not have aged well for any number of reasons, so keep that in mind when reading (or clicking outgoing links!).

Half of a decade of birthdays

Posted 5 December 2007

Hey, thanks! But, how did you know it was my birthday? You don't use Facebook or anything.

You need to join Facebook so we can communicate as a group. How else are we going to collaborate? < I respond> Oh, I forgot about email.

I removed my wall and put up my phone number. When my birthday rolled around, nobody called. Nobody emailed. A few people sent Facebook messages saying "Where the hell is your wall?"

Have you ever seen "The Boondocks"? In one of the first season's episodes, Huey conducts an experiment: two weeks of watching nothing but black television. That is, television programs whose cast is predominantly black. During the experiment he becomes increasingly slothful and forgetful.

Facebook, it seems, has similar effects.

Back in my heyday, my friends remembered my birthday well ahead of time and threw a massive surprise 18th birthday party for me and Eric (we were born exactly one month apart). It started early in the morning, when two of our best girl friends showed up at my house (where Eric had spent the night). We woke up to them singing "Happy Birthday", and I doubt that they'll forget the first words out of my confused and groggy mouth: "What the heck?!" We were kidnapped and taken, blindfolded, to Golden Corral where a large group of our friends had driven up to an hour to have breakfast with us.

In the afternoon we were taken to a dance studio for swing dancing lessons, and with even more of our friends in attendance. In the evening we were taken to a large party with even more friends and family, where we were given hand- painted T-shirts which we have to this day. It was wonderful.

Then I joined Facebook and "friended" (I hate that verb) between 200 and 300 people. Like Allan, I disabled my wall. When my birthday came around, I got about seven Facebook messages from people I hadn't cared to talk with in several years, along with a "Where is your wall? You're missing out on having your wall plastered with birthday wishes." Sorry, Chris, I don't agree. If having dozens of people take less than one minute out of their lives to follow a link and type what amounts to less content than most IMs I receive is supposed to be some kind of pinnacle of birthday experiences, then I don't agree.

I'm not depressed about any of this, mind you. But I'll always remember my 16-hour birthday party, surrounded by my closest friends. And I'll always hate that, in one half of a decade, people have changed the measure of a birthday from the amount of pleasurable quality time spent with good friends, to the masturbatory number of Facebook messages you receive.