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On Birthdays and Anniversaries (Bah Humbug?)

January 29, 2018

Some of them I knew, some I didn’t.

From Brian Smith: Congratulations on your work anniversary.

From Richard Lindle: Congratulations on your work anniversary.

From Donna Williams: Congratulations on your work anniversary.

From Jack Pryor: Congratulations on your work anniversary.

The thing is, my anniversary at my current company is not for another couple of months. Eventually, I figured out they were congratulating me on 13 Kids Productions, a company I use as a catch all LLC for my writing and other endeavors. Other than this blog, things have been slow on the writing front.

I admit, I’m uncomfortable with work anniversaries. Oh, not the idea of an anniversary. In fact, one of the fun traditions at Microsoft was that on your work anniversary you were required to bring in a number of pounds of M&M candies equal to the number of years you’d worked for the company. I remember lugging in 9 lbs of chocolate.

I’m talking about the online version. Typically it comes from LinkedIn!. I like the site. It’s a great way to showcase a kind of living resume. It’s useful for networking. It’s useful for job searches. And I understand that LinkedIn! wants to keep their users engaged. But, I just can’t get comfortable with them promoting a work anniversary as a way for people to reconnect.

Facebook does the same thing, right? They just use birthdays instead of anniversaries.

Bob has a birthday today. Wish him a happy birthday.

I almost never click the button to wich Bob a happy birthday. It’s not that I don’t want Bob to have a happy birthday. Of course I do. But, assuming Bob has a few hundred Facebook friends, he’s going to see screen after screen of

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday!

In fact, Bob is going to get so many Happy Birthday greetings that he’s going to completely lose track of who did or did not which him a happy birthday. Have you ever heard of someone the day after their birthday posting,

Hey, Tom. It was my birthday yesterday and I noticed you didn’t wish me a Happy Birthday. What’s the deal? You can’t spare a second to click a button?

No, instead you see people posting “Thanks for all the birthday wishes.” But, if I’m really interested in Bob, would I just click the Happy Birthday button? When Facebook reminds me that one of my friends in real life has a birthday, I typically text them, or send them a PM, or even call them. If it’s simply a connection of Facebook, I just don’t see the point of a generic message.

It’s the same with LinkedIn!’s work anniversaries. It’s great to hear from old friends, but a generic message isn’t it.

Okay, at this point some of you are thinking, “Why are you such a killjoy, Rodney? Geez, people try to show you a little love and you just put them down?”

I know. I know that how it looks. And please understand that I do appreciate the gesture. But, it’s like wishing a non-Jewish person Happy Hanukkah, or wishing a Muslim a Merry Christmas. Of course, people appreciate the polite nature of it, but it’s not really hitting the mark. And the non-Jew or the Muslim wouldn’t be offended if you failed to offer them a holiday greeting.

So, yes, thank you for the wishes. But, please understand if I don’t hit the button when LinkedIn! or Facebook tells me you have an anniversary or birthday coming up. If you’re a friend, I’ll call.

In fact, I don’t share my birthday on Facebook. Every year on my birthday I get five or six happy birthday greetings. They are from people who know me and have gone to the trouble to keep track of my birthday. I appreciate each and every one of them.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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