Social Media Makes Birthdays Better

For a decade, I had an Outlook calendar entitled: “Hug More.” It was after reading Hug Your Customers by Jack Mitchell that I created and maintained this calendar to keep track of the special occasions of friends, family, coworkers, and clients. I would overhear someone mentioning that their birthday was the past weekend or today was their work anniversary, so I would quietly make a reoccurring Outlook entry and the following year I would reach out with a call or an email celebrating the day. This simple hack allowed me to be more thoughtful on a consistent basis and therefore, created a deeper connection with my tribe. 

Today is like every other ordinary day—with one exception. Today is my birthday. As I rolled out of bed to make my first cup of coffee, I grabbed my phone and already had a dozen texts and notifications celebrating my big day. I opened Facebook to see a “Facebook Memory” from 2015 where my then five-year-old niece was singing me Happy Birthday (instant feel-good memory). This was followed by my timeline quickly filling up with messages from friends and family.

I don’t think it’s possible to not feel great after seeing all that love in one place. As a society, we spend a lot of time talking about the negatives associated with social media but one of the things that they no doubt get right is helping us all Hug More! Social platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn allow us to hug our community with these simple features. As such, I no longer need to maintain a separate calendar for these special occasions because the platforms are doing some of the work for me. It is now up to me as the “hugger” to not post a semi-automated “Congratulate Jane on her 5-year work anniversary” post but to write something meaningful on her timeline and then follow up with a call to congratulate her on the milestone (going above and beyond and not phoning it in sticks out these days because so few do it).

I frequently consider unplugging from the Matrix that is Social Media; however, I immediately think about the people around the world that I have stayed in contact with because of these apps. I think about the kids I went to grade school with, my West Coast NASCAR community, and my East Coast peeps—because of social media I can remain in touch through these channels. There is something special about calling them to say that you read about their latest work accomplishment or congratulate them on the baptism of their youngest.

At the end of the day, I know how loved these birthday messages make me feel and I appreciate each and every one of them. Thank you.