Monday, October 17, 2011

Happy Birthday in Facebook times

Yesterday I turned 38 - yay - and Wow: celebrating a birthday in the Facebook era is interesting...

Over a hundred people posted on my wall or wrote me messages on my special day; old buddies I haven´t met in years sent me a micro thought from their part of the world, and made me realise how visable I am on Facebook. Gee, what I post on my wall might actually be read by all these 755 "friends", some I had a brief chat with 10 years ago or who I argued with on the editorial pages when I was a political writer back in Sweden. They are actually all there on Facebook even if I normally don´t talk to them directly. But on my birthday ministers of the government, old class mates from high school, cousins and past flings all unite. "Happy Birthday Carolin". Thanks...

Ah well. Social media... it feeds our need of attention, of feeling like we exist. It helps us find people who are just like us as individuals, but it also helps us fit in, guiding us in what other people like and think.

I was wondering whether a "happy birthday" is a possession or a non-materialistic value...? Deborah Roedder John at the University of Minnesota asked 250 kids between 8 and 18 what words and pictures that represented happiness, and she found that kids with low self esteem chose things, like clothes or an iPod, while kids with high self esteem chose activities and achievements.

Somehow the level of closeness with those who said "happy birthday" is so low it´s almost a Thing. But at the same time it´s built on a relationship I had with that person at 11, 17 or 26 year of age. During a lifetime you get time to meet a lot of people and I guess I´m kind of social... We have true moments with people, where we share and help each other grow, and all those are now captured on Facebook. I do feel joy receiving all these reminders of the people of my life because I care about them, and I do admit I feel an awkward sense of confidence in the numbers. Facebook, ah Facebook. What are you doing to us?

(Research found in Brandwashed by Martin Lindstrom. Awesome book! )

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