I often condemn social media for the shortchanging of our relationships. But this time, I’m kind of a fan.
For full effect, download “As Good As I Once Was” by Toby Keith and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.
On a side note, I would like to give a shout out to Asia the EMT who is pulling an all-nighter, preparing to be gooped up with electrodes and monitored while she drools and shakes in her sleep. Been there, done that, no fun.
Sitting in a Las Vegas high school gymnasium talking to 17-year olds isn’t really the most desirable way to turn over another calendar year of my life, but hey, I gots kids to feed man, I gots to pay da bills! Maybe my slang accent doesn’t sound as realistic with the voice in your head reading that last sentence, but I think I do a pretty good job pulling that off when I’m hopped up in a car stuffed full of cheesecake.
Birthdays aren’t really my thing. I’m not a fan of them whatsoever. They’re that awkward moment when you’re standing on the porch of your prom date in the ruffled pink dress who is ten levels out of your league, and you uncomfortably give her a side hug goodnight. Birthdays are that feeling; all day long. A streaming inventory of forced responses from people telling you how much they L-word you, when in reality, you’re just eh…to them.
I remember when I turned seven years old and my Grandpa took me for a night on the town where he said we would “shop till we dropped.” Go ahead and picture a 58-year old Air Force Colonel pushing a shopping cart full of K-mart toys around with an ornery little brat like me walking next to him. Those certainly were some of the best days of my life. And boy, do I sure miss that old man.
Times have changed, and thanks to Mark Zuckerberg every one of us can now give out a ten-second digital congratulations once a year whenever we check the upper right hand corner of our Facebook feed. The birthday prompt that we all see is one of the most half-hearted reminders of the validity in our relationships, and every day it causes us to second guess ourselves whether or not the name in the corner is deserving of a 15-character celebratory salutation.
The cynic inside of me would normally rip this social media glitch to shreds, but for some reason that’s just not me anymore. I could of course blame this on the fact that I might be evolving a bit wiser as the years pass by, or that I’ve let go of some past aggression due to the fact that “How I Met Your Mother” has been renewed for a 9th season, but whatever it is, I L-worded how social media came through yesterday in a big way.
Because yesterday, hundreds of you showed that you cared about me for ten seconds. And that made the difference.
I heard from everybody. Friends, foes, sisters, co-workers, buddies, ex-girlfriends, buddies ex-girlfriends, old roommates, new roommates, parents, BFFs, wives of BFFs, high school crushes, college crushes, old coaches, old bosses, new bosses, wives of old and new bosses, buddies girlfriends who I met at a wedding last week, old neighbors, aunts, uncles, mortal enemies, anybody and everybody you can think of. I was bombarded with posts, texts, messages, pokes, likes, any way possible that you could wish me happy birthday in just ten seconds.
Again, it may have been just a quick swipe of your hand, with your actual feelings for me barely on autopilot as you posted on my wall or sent off that text. But yesterday, to me, that was ten times better than an off-key group of waitresses at Applebee’s singing one of the many pieces of audible flair that gets regurgitated with a free brownie sundae at least 10 times a day. Yesterday, the posts, they erased a little part of the Grinch inside of me.
And as I sat in a high school gymnasium and listened to an overweight fool stumble through a power point about ACT scores, I must say that I was grateful to have some of the greatest people in my life let me know that I matter to them, that I am worth an extra mouse click, that I mean more to them than just a handful of awkward memories of “that one kid with seizures”. Yesterday was one of the best birthdays that I ever had; in the desert, trying to talk high school kids into higher education, with Facebook and a cell phone my only allies to social interaction. Yesterday was some of the best ten seconds that you ever spent in your whole life.
And I thank you for that.