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Over the past year, I have joined and actively participated in several social networks.  While completing my profiles on these sites, I was asked for my date of birth, presumably because these services are attempting to qualify me and exclude underage kids.  But much to my chagrin, these services also sent out reminder notices to all of my contacts regarding my upcoming birthday.

I received dozens of electronic “happy birthdays”.  While I really do appreciate the warm wishes, this got me thinking about how social media and web 2.0 tools change our behavior.  What prompts my business colleagues and people I barely know to wish a heartfelt happy birthday?  Heartfelt?  Really?

To me, birthdays are a nice day, and these days, a grim reminder of age. I like to casually celebrate with a few close friends and family.  I am not sure about my entire social network participating and reminding me of another passing year.  But more importantly, is social media changing our behavior?

I am also guilty.  I have sent birthday greetings to people I barely know.  When a pop-up reminder flashes that so-and-so’s birthday is in 5 days, am I supposed to spring to action and buy a card or a gift? On the actual birthday, should I acknowledge people I barely know and have no idea how they view their own birthdays? Do they want warm wishes?  Or do they want their birthdays kept private? These are new questions I have never asked before.  My behavior seems to be changing.

I noticed too, that many people keep in touch through Facebook and Twitter these days vs. the old way of an occasional phone call or email.  Through Facebook, I learn more about people’s families, interests and activities than I did before. 

It will be interesting to watch how social networking changes business behavior in the future.  Will we tend to do more business with those people in our network and less with others?  Only time will tell.



  1. I think wishing people a happy birthday is a way of connecting. It seems easier (and less like maybe stalking) to send an e-card (or use Send Out Cards — which is a printed e-card) on a birthday than to send get well cards or a congratulations card.

    I don’t know that I am ever upset to get a happy birthday wish (even if they’ve turned a little grim on me too…)

  2. Yes, it is changing the way we behave. People send a quick email instead of picking up the phone or sending a card in the mail. I was so excited to get a couple of birthday cards in the MAIL this year….it is becoming a thing of the past. I believe that sending a real card is MUCH more heartfelt. I hate how the social media is changing behavior….I try to resist it sometimes, but it is changing mine as well.

  3. Rosemary:

    Thanks for adding some context to an article of mine recently published in


    PS: I work with Mike O’Horo.

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