Thursday, January 5, 2012

Notes: facebook birthday reminders

Hi. Are you on facebook? If you are, then you might've seen the birthday thing that reminds/strongly urges* you you to wish someone a happy birthday.

It's funny because unless you know everyone on your list pretty well (or have only added your actual friends), there will come a time where you will look at the reminder and wonder if you should wish falaanfalaan birthday person a Happy Birthday. Well, actually, maybe that's just a question for me. I actually wonder about whether I should wish people I don't know very well. This is because a) it's fake. I didn't remember their birthday. I don't care if it's their birthday. I don't ever talk to them. The only reason I'm wishing them is because a machine told me to and b) they know it's fake. They know I didn't remember their birthday. If they have ever had a conversation with me, they would know I don't care if it's their birthday. They don't talk to me either. They know the only reason I'm wishing them is because a machine told me to and c) I don't see the point. Am I being nice? Does this qualify as kindness? Can you force kindness? HOW WILL ME WISHING/NOT WISHING THEM MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

This picture of Rachel Maddow adequately reflects my own confusion
via (of course) fuckyeahrachelmaddow

This is what happens if you're crazy. You have entire arguments for- and against- the motion THB Najia Should Wish FalaanFalaan On Her/His Birthday in your head. Then about 75% of the time, Against wins. Against's closing statement is that, No, it isn't bad to not wish somebody you don't know, because how does indifference equal ill will**? It doesn't. For is wrong in equating a non-wish wish with goodwill, because how can said goodwill, which did not exist before (again do not equate non-existence as negative here), suddenly be born of a birthday wish? That's right, it can't. Hence not only is the wish a non-wish due to the appropriate backing sentiment still being lacking, Against declares the birthday wish to FalaanFalaan being a hypocritical sham and highly encourages this house to instead focus on real issues, such as CollegeApps.

But I have a terrible memory
It's true, and it sucks in this case. Sometimes for the life of me I can't remember the birthdays of people I love (for example I actually asked one of my closest friends when her birthday is because all I could remember was "it's in early january." SHAME). This is usually the case if their birthday falls on a date after the tenth of any month. I AM A TERRIBLE PERSON.

In this situation, yes, sometimes I rely on facebook. Or I just ask them. They know mean well. I think.

The wall of lol ka sociological analysis
If you're bored and it's someone's (hitherto referred to as the subject) birthday, go to their wall. Now see if you can tell how many people actually remembered the subject's birthday/give a shit that the subject was born. Here are the three loose categories to check if the wish is in earnest or if it's just social norms at play.

1. The lazy wish. Also: the social norms brought me here wish, the I don't care if it's your birthday wish, the I think I'm a nice person because I'm wishing you wish, etc.
This is generally a simple "Happy birthday". Interestingly, this wish also reflects the attitude of the wisher, signified by the punctuation following the wish. Things are awkward between us/we had a fight? Go with a simple "Happy birthday." Wanna convey sincerity but don't know the person? Add an exclamation point. I postulate that, even though I haven't seen it yet, the question-mark wish must also exist. After all, Popper and the 99 swans thing. This category also includes any and all smileys.

2. A slight variation on category one.
What? You're on someone's wall and all you see is a bunch of category one wishes and want to stand out? You want to look like you give a shit, but don't really know the person. Solution: add a generic sentence like "Hope you have a great one!" or "Have a blast!" or, the one that is completely asinine, and hence the refuge of wishers who are wishing the subject on the subject's 18th or 21st birthday, "omggg you're legalllllll."

You can add any of these phrases to category two, they're all equally relevant.
via iamteamtegan

Let's talk about omggg you're legalllllll for a bit. 

omggg you're legalllllll is really interesting. I want to do a survey of all omggg you're legalllllll wishers and find out their motives. Draft question:

Why did you say omggg you're legalllllll?
a. Because I didn't have anything to say
b. Subject can now drive, or drink, or both, and I am happy for the subject.
c. Subject has been doing things which may or may not be legal, I don't know stop harassing me do I need a lawyer?
d. I'm fucking jealous and don't know what it's like to turn 18/21 and in saying omggg you're legalllllll I mean fuck you, I wish I was legalllllll and free to do whatever I want.
f. I didn't know any better.
e. All of the above

3. The genuine wish.
The genuine wish goes above and beyond the customary and generic. It's in your face and it's a friggin paragraph. It's impressive because the wisher seems to care/know the subject. However, it may seem that the genuine wish is genuine even when it's not. It may be the aspiring genuine wish (which we shall call category three prime, denoted by C3'), which is when the wisher used to be close to the subject but isn't any longer, or has spent a lot of time with the subject but doesn't know her/him very well, so it'll look like this:

remember when we were in first grade and you broke my scissors and I didn't forgive you till we were in fifth grade? loll, crazy times. but we've come a long way since then :) happy birthday! :*

It's easy to expose the aspiring genuine wish. But if it isn't C3' and doesn't fit into categories one and two, then it probably is a genuine wish. Congratulations to the subject, s/he has real friends.

Conclusion: categories one and two are fakers, category three with the exclusion of C3' are probably not fakers.

Further notes:
1. Yes, I have been guilty of categories one and two at one point or another. This is usually because I have the slightest semblance of care for the subject. This is also the 25% of the time that I have wished people I don't know very well. 

2. I always wish people I know very well, in case that wasn't clear. For them I don't have to do the debate, duh.

3. Turns out I was farigh enough to write this post.

Are you a wisher? Have you been guilty of categories one, two or three'? How does that make you feel? Have you ever done the omggg you're legalllllll? Questions and comments, please. I think I should turn this into a research project.

*I can't ever use the term strongly urge (and variants) with a straight face. This is because to me, thanks to MUN, the term merely means "oh I encourage you to do something, I really really want you to do something, but I can't make you do anything because that's just how the UN works. Even if it's global warming and concerns the whole world, ooh, no, can't make you do anything b/c of your sovereignty/boundaries/issues waghaira . So, strongly urge, and will keep pestering you. kthxbai"

**although I do believe that indifference equals ill will in situations of social justice e.g. if you know that there are deep social inequalities and are too lazy to join a movement against said social inequalities or support it or basically DO ANYTHING, your indifference harms people. So it's got the same effect as ill-will, though not as severe. However, birthdays aren't social justice situations. 


  1. I was just wondering since you said you MUNned. I MUn also, though not very often. :O

  2. Ohhh. No, no munning for me again till college (hopefully).

  3. whyyy? though none for me either. :P what school do you go to?

  4. a certain school in my city (hint) which i cannot mention here lest stalkers stumble upon this blog. but then again there's only like three famous a level schools in the city? anyway, i wasn't good enough to make it to the school team and i don't want to go in a private team so i keep telling myself i'm on hiatus. i really like munning for the fun of it so probably yes in college (if i get in that is), if they let me do it for fun.

  5. Is it the...biggest A Level school? With the red gowns? Or the one which looks like a house? I like parliamentary speaking more, muccch more, but MUNs can e fun too. How many have you done? Where all are you applying?