E-messages aren’t always right

Those modern e-messages aren’t always the right fit…

Some folks have a funny way of remembering anniversaries. People hold many different ideas about the importance of remember dates. As modes of acknowledging and celebrating events have transferred to a digital platform from traditional hand written memes like cards and letters, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have replaced Hallmark for many of us.

Facebook has become the easy way to acknowledge a birthday or anniversary and also a simple way of inviting large groups of people to come together to celebrate various milestones and events. Any day that a friend has a birthday, Facebook will populate a message in your notifications with an easy way to respond and quickly post a “Happy Birthday.” This is a great to feel a flood of appreciation from those who would otherwise not know or remember that you were born that day. This is both a plus and a minus. The plus is that you can see that 150-people wished you well. The minus is that one can feel discouraged if they don’t get enough from their Facebook friends list.

LinkedIn is another way in which people acknowledge special days or events. One way is in that they have a “send a congratulations to your friend —– on their work anniversary.” This is seen by many to be silly and to be frustrating when it becomes clear that 20 people said “Congratulations” and only 1 bothered to write a unique and thoughtful message. A friend recently relayed this exact story. His work anniversary came up and his LinkedIn notifications had been popping up on his smartphone all day. When he finally had a chance to look at his inbox he saw a long row of one single message, repeated over and over: “Congratulations on your work anniversary!” He told me he was struck by how cold it was, especially in light of the fact that he knew each of those senders only saw a prompt saying something to the effect of “Mike has a work anniversary, congratulate him.” He said it was actually disheartening to know that all of those people couldn’t be bothered to take a couple seconds to send an actual note or wish of congratulations. And he wasn’t being ungrateful, he was just noting how cold this looked in the palm of his hand:

It is interesting how social media and digital messaging have changed the ways in which we connect. There was always something special about a card that was picked out of thousands, just for you by a person who wrote at least a few special thoughts in their own penmanship. The pleasure in getting a number of cards was like getting small paper, personalized gifts.

We have swapped digital communication for calling or spending time with family at times. It is easy to be “too busy” to make the effort. Are people any more busy than they were in years past? There is an argument for that but the converse is that people are busy doing busy tasks that take up much time but could be dropped or replaced by items that add far more value in life. Time spent together, particularly on special days, is memories made or memories changed.

Time spent with a friend or family member on a special day is the best way to celebrate. In many ways, the progression of our society simplifies relationships and makes the ones worth investing in more obvious. There are those who struggle annually with particular days and having a person to spend the time with, even if they don’t speak about that event, can make all of the difference. Time doing something to replace the past memory or to enhance one’s sense of what that day means for them can be a great source of meaning and happiness in our sometimes too digital of a modern world.

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