Anti-Social Media: The Facebook Birthday Experiment

I have long maintained that social media is actually turning human’s into anti-social drones who instead of having “real” conversations with each other rely on the safety and security of the Facebook Brick Wall post.  The wall is an ironic name considering that we are simply talking to a wall versus actually having real human interaction.  Sarcasm does not work on Facebook and neither does essential non-verbal communication that comes from talking to someone face to face.

The research is still early on the effect of social media on our society.  Some doctor’s warn of Facebook depression while others claim Facebook is good for your mental health.  The American Academy of Pediatrics is torn on this topic and even issued their own study on Facebook Depression and why Facebook is good for kids

I have long questioned simple functions of Facebook designed to augment our brains with prompts to remind us of important things.  One pet peeve of mine is the Birthday reminder functionality.  Does anyone actually make an effort to remember a friend’s birthday?  Would people normally wish someone a happy birthday if Facebook was not there to remind them of birthdays this, week, month, etc?

Yesterday (9/27) was my birthday and 2 weeks ago in the spirit of research I decided to play a little game with my social network.  I changed my birth date to January 1, 1930 making me 81yrs old.  No one in my network caught this or commented on my wall.  I thought to myself, if Facebook failed to prompt anyone about my birthday, would anyone in my network actually remember.  A couple of people remembered without prompts – these were close friends and I immediately removed their posts from my wall to avoid triggering an avalanche of prompted birthday greeting.  But only a total 4 people actually remembered my birthday.  Out of the hundreds in my network, no one else responded with “Happy Birthday” wall posts whereas, last year, I was overwhelmed by the volume of birthday greetings.  However, this year there was nothing because without the prompt to tell the drones to take action and post to Facebook.

Was I depressed by the lack off Facebook birthday greetings? NO not all.  If anything, I was relieved that my experiment worked.  I just remind myself that the vast majority of “facebook” friends are not really good friends but anti-social acquaintances.

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