Prior to phone and the age of social media, if you wanted to wish someone happy birthday or express a thought, you had to do it in person. It was a moment of vulnerability as you shared your day, asked them out for pumpkin lattes or discussed your latest grocery store faux pas incident. The person was able to watch your facial expressions, hear your tone of voice, read your body language and join in with your laughter.
The final art of interpersonal communication has been muted with Tweets, pokes, “likes”, “+1” and upcoming birthday notifications. Sentiments are communicated with a “like” and the stories we once shared are condensed to a picture shared to a vast network of high school buddies, co-workers, potential flames and our grandparents.
How does one reintroduce the one-on-one connection with friends living far away? How can we go beyond writing “happy birthday” on someone’s wall because Facebook repeated reminds us to do so?
While doing research for a work-related blog, I stumbled upon a posting on Madame Noir.com regarding flirting in the digital age. One of the tips mentioned that
If you wanted to let someone know you were thinking about him or her you could write on his or her wall. If you wanted to dive into a conversation, you could message them.
This advice came at a key time of my life. I had recently received a birthday reminder for my father’s upcoming special day. What made it so poignant is that he passed away earlier this year. It didn’t mean that the sentiments weren’t there — just that he may not be there to read my birthday message.
So, I took the time to write a thoughtful post for his Facebook page. Letting him know that I am thinking of him, that his light continues to shine through me and that his presence is deeply missed.
It was this simple act that got me to thinking about how I can incorporate a similiar act into my daily life. I can’t think of a better gift on a person’s birthday than a heartfelt thank you for the light they bring to my life or a what makes their “shine” unique.
Now, when Facebook reminds me to share some birthday love, I craft a heartfelt message for the special person on their special day. If a posting about someone’s day touches me, I take the time to contact that person to let them know that they have touched me.
The takeaway here is to use social media to connect you and not as an easy out. Make the effort. Let people know when they are in your thoughts or when you are reminded of them. Leave a message that they are remembered — and will remember. Everyone loves to hear how they have impacted your life and continue to shine in the lives around them.