Most of the times I want to strangle Zuckerberg for inventing the damn FaceBook, but around birthday time it can be kind of humbling. You get to see how many of your old friends have way too much time on their hands during working hours to surf the web and post sincere birthday wishes. Don’t get me wrong, FaceBook and LinkedIn have brought me back in touch with dozens of great old friends and memories. Many of those friends are spending quality “real world” time with us now as a result of the social reunion. Being married a couple of times before, I have nieces and nephews from about 5 different families, and dearly love being able to ping back and forth and keep in touch.
You also get to see how many marketers have you on their FB lists and think you are going to somehow be gratified to get birthday salutations from people you have never heard of. Some are probably sincere, and others are just good natured folks looking to extend their good Social Media karma, but I suspect that yet others have their bots sending out cut and paste boilerplate much in the same manner of the LinkedIn technical support chat line.
Thankfully I am old enough to have a few friends who think that the FaceBook birthday one-liner is still not a substitute for an actual greeting. I must admit that the number of cards (thank God) goes down in direct proportion to your age. In the spirit of going Green and due to my absolute disdain of Hallmark and its manufactured holidays, I prefer to either print my own cards (for other people, I’m not Howard Hughes printing cards for myself) or send e-cards. All this media is overwhelming, and if not impersonal, a bit abstract. It’s kind of like learning to drive via a video game. There is no danger on-line, no direct contact, you can shoot at the bad guys and they all fall. Even if they kill you, you don’t bleed. That’s all good and well, I guess, but after all I did just turn 58.
I have been blessed with a loving wife (well 3 actually, but who’s counting), two gorgeous young ladies that happen to be my daughters, 28 nephews and nieces (half of whom I keep in touch with) and more great friends and neighbors than an old curmudgeon like me would ever deserve. My life has been a very outgoing one; we love to entertain, play music, do the public “festivals” all over town during the summer and fall, talk to strangers, buy them beers, all the fun things that end up leaving you with lots of friends and memories. Consequently, on ones birthday at this age there are several congratulatory phone calls.
My hearing isn’t perfect any longer, my daughters both live in Southern California where the cell reception sucks, half of my friends talk so fast and so much that I have trouble understanding them, and the cell phone I have been using exclusively for years has one infuriating feature. The greatest invention of man (mostly furthered by the late great Steve Jobs) was the digital revolution. The worst thing ever to happen to audio was the digital revolution. I can fit 3000 songs on my iPhone, but none of them will ever sound like they did when played on my turntable. I can talk all over the world for almost free on Skype, but on my only phone, my only form of verbal communication with a distant world, only one person can talk at a time.
On the old “ma Bell’ phones, you could have conversations. One person could be talking and you could interrupt them. Now you have to wait till one side of the cell line is finished. This isn’t a problem unless the party on the other end NEVER TAKES A BREATH. It seems like the older the friend, or the less time they spend around other people, the greater the phenomenon. There are times I have to shout for 30 seconds to get the person on the other end to shut up for a second to tell them I have to go.
The other fine point of a cell phone only society (aside from radiation and brain tumors) is that “ma Bell” rarely, if ever, dropped a call. It happens now so often we all have a protocol for who calls back. It’s the person who initiated the call in the first place, in case you didn’t know. Poor reception, poor audio, poor signal, and poor speakers (on an IPhone) is starting to equal poor me. Sorry for the whining. It has been a wonderful day, but one of my daughters asked me if I was going to write a post on my birthday. I didn’t mean to sound like Andy Rooney, for those of you old enough to know who he is. Remember 60 Minutes? I think that was around even before cell phones. Never mind!
With all of the love and friendship I feel on my 58th birthday, I long for the good old days of the land line. Progress is not always progress. Stay hungry, Stay foolish!