A Lesson in Social Media From Teens

Once upon a time, a friend of one of my kids friended me on Facebook. She immediately told my child that I didn’t know how to use Facebook because I posted too much. My child gave it an eyeroll. I laughed because well–social media is one of the things I get paid for at work. I probably have read more white papers, case studies, best practices than most people on the Internet. I know how to sell a link.

So, what could a bunch of teenagers accidentally teach me about social media? A lot. You see, as I have already posted, my youngest child turned 16 today. Her father did a lovely tribute on his wall with pictures and comments. But, the real meat happened on her wall.

I look at birthday wishes on people’s walls ALL THE TIME. Happy Birthday Ann! Have a great birthday Jennifer! I hope your hubby spoils you Maxine. There is sometimes a variation. I try to say something about my wishes for their year ahead as an example. Goodness knows when you have someone or three having a birthday every day, it becomes part of your routine.

Then I read these kids’ birthday wishes for my daughter. It wasn’t just junk or Happy birthday Elly! These kids talked about how they met, mentioned a special time or two, talked about what they liked about her. They shared a picture of the two of them together. Yes, there were some “Your cute {sic}! HBD” types of comments. But most of them offered more. I have a friend or two that will go with a line more than happy birthday. But, how many go above that? None? How often do I go beyond that? Erm…not much. I will write a birthday post or something for family. Maybe. I sort of expect people to know they are loved and appreciated.

These posts weren’t extensive for the most part. Yes, one of them was a long ramble. (but it was touching and interesting) It wasn’t anything that would ADD a whole lot of time to a birthday greeting. It adds so much as a gift to the birthday person though. It also gives a gift to that person’s community. How many times have you known a person for years through one aspect of their life and never realized they had a hobby you found interesting? I bet that’s happened. Or you know something cool about a friend that maybe her other friends don’t realize.

So, there you go. I am going to try to say a bit more in my birthday wishes. I feel like it will be a big part of building community among my friends and family. I feel like it also will just make a difference to a single person. As adults, we have so many less than stellar birthdays. This is a way to give back.

Think about it. And thank you to the youngest child’s friends for taking me down a notch even if they don’t know they did. She’s the child that has always taught me I don’t know everything…and this was a reminder of that.