Posts Tagged ‘friendships’

It Was Your Birthday? Social Media Didn’t Tell Me That!

June 2, 2010 15 comments

In case you did not know, Tuesday, June 1st, was my birthday. Surprise!

For most, it was a surprise.

Months ago, inspired by someone who did what I am about to describe, I chose to test my friends to see who actually remembered my birthday by taking my birthday off from Facebook and avoiding any discussion around my birthday.

Why would I do this? This was not a loyalty test. I felt there was an opportunity to make a statement about how social media is impacting the quality of all relationships, even if it is at the expense of my birthday.

Just five years ago, people did not have Facebook to keep track of their friends’ activities, happenings, current events, and important dates such as birthday’s, anniversaries, and more. We had to use our own brainpower to remember the important things about our friends and family. If you forgot someone’s birthday, you were considered a bad friend.

This brings me back to yesterday, the day of my experiment. I get online around 945am to see only one Facebook happy birthday wish from my girlfriend’s Mom, an early one at that.  I started g-chatting with my friend Nick, who wished me a happy birthday in the chat, as he was the only person who knew of my experiment. We kept track of birthday wishes, which was not difficult.

Suddenly, it was 10:35, and I had zero twitter friends wishing a happy birthday, and only one new happy birthday wish on Facebook. However, I did have four business emails wishing me happy birthday. For those keeping score: Email 4, People on social media: 2.

This confirmed what I had thought. Without a reminder, very few people would know about my birthday. Everything changed when my girlfriend, Amanda, sent a happy birthday tweet and Facebook status update. Experiment: dead. Before her status update on Facebook: 6 birthday wishes. After: 30. Before her tweet: zero. After: 40+.

Even though I told myself that I couldn’t be mad at anyone for forgetting my birthday this year (since it was part of an experiment), I had mixed feelings about certain people or groups forgetting my birthday. From most of the people in my office (yes, the place I work and spend 40+ hours a week forgot save for two people), and even friends I have had since junior high (you know who you are), it was a bit of an eye opener.

Imagine not having a girlfriend to send out a simple message to her network of friends that would trigger such a reaction.

Imagine having your birthday forgotten.

That did not happen to me, as after the tweet & facebook status posted by Amanda, the outpouring of support was overwhelming. I have so many thank you’s to give out. Amanda made this the best birthday  I have ever had. I will forever be grateful to her for that.

To those who did wish me an early, day of, or belated birthday, thank you!

I cannot point fingers without pointing one at myself. I rely on the birthday reminders as much as the rest of the world. I suck. But, isn’t that a statement of how relationships have changed?

Why do we have to know our friends when we have social media to know our friends?

I work within the social media and online marketing world, and see all of the good it does connecting people who otherwise may never cross paths. There are some negatives to what social media is doing to society, notably, the impact it is having on relationships.  I know hundreds, maybe thousands of people moderately well. Ask me what day their birthday lies on, and I will fail miserably. You would do the same.

It makes me wonder: how well do my friends know me? How well do I know my friends?

So many people worry about the relationships that corporations and brands have or should have with followers, fans, etc. What is more important: the Minnesota Twins following you back on Twitter, or a close friend wishing you a happy birthday?

Let’s get back to solidifying the friendships that social media have provided to us. Otherwise, what’s the point?



Follow up: Keep in touch, friends!

January 12, 2009 1 comment

This weekend, I wrote about how people resort to social mediums and text messaging to keep in touch with friends.  This approach is very informal, yet, is becoming the norm for how communicating with friends, even significant others, happens.  My goal was to go ‘old school’ by actually calling people that I either haven’t seen or talked to in months, or even people that are into the text message way of communicating.

Here are the results:

  • Called 8 people
  • One ended up to be a wrong number
  • One responded by text messaging me, letting me know they received my voicemail
  • Two answered right away: had a nice conversation with both; made plans to meet up this week for a happy hour; the other, I’m going to work out at her place after work tonight
  • One called back after receiving my voicemail; made plans to meet up this week
  • The other three, I’m still awaiting a response

3/8 in baseball is .375; one could say that this was s small success.  There are plenty of people that did not get called yesterday; more will come this week.

It felt good to take the initiative and call these people; the people that answered were very happy to hear from me (hence the 3/3 on planning on getting together this week with the people that answered).   Hoping for more calling success tonight… one for sure!

~Jason Douglas

twitter: @jasondouglas

Keep in touch, friends!

January 10, 2009 4 comments

That’s a common phrase said to people you don’t see often.  It’s always said with the right intent, how many times do you actually keep in touch?  Today, I’m getting together with a couple of college roommates, one of which I haven’t seen since last summer.  If it wasn’t for him randomly texting me earlier this week, we’re not getting together.

Text messaging, along with sites such as facebook, myspace, even twitter, give all of us the ability to feel like we’re in touch with someone.  By looking at their profile, reading their wall, past status updates, looking at a few new pics, and even poking somoene, you feel like you know exactly what’s going on in someone’s life.   One of my better friends and I didn’t see each other for nearly a year, yet texted each other almost every day. That worket, but shouldn’t be standard for him or everyone else.

What happened to ‘calling’ someone?  Is this already considered ‘so 2007′?

We’re all guilty of it, resorting to texting, facebook stalking, etc versus a simple call.  Of all the numbers I have in my phone, all the friends I have on facebook: I might talk to maybe 10% of them; yet, I feel like I know what is going on with 80-90% of my friends’  lives.

Everyone is busy, or that’s what everyone says.  Are we afraid of getting stuck in a conversation that might last longer than you want with someone you used to consider a very close friend?  Do you really feel like someone’s friend if you text message them once in a while?

I’m all for social media; but I think it’s changing the rules of friendships, even relationships, as we speak.  Is this for the better?

In the time it took me to write this blog, or for you to read this blog, we could have called someone we care about, even if it’s just to say hello. Maybe this should be added to my 09 resolutions/goals list.  There are a few calls I’ll be making this weekend. Will you?