A Simple Gesture

For the last two years, I’ve been using Facebook to spread a little bit of joy. Facebook, for it’s MANY faults, does have a few useful features: one that I’ve found particularly handy is the birthday feature. A line-item on the right side of the page tells me that “Person X plus 4 other people have birthdays today.” I immediately click on that link, and type “Happy birthday!” in the accompanying text box for each person’s listing. If it’s someone I know personally, I use their name, and sometimes try to add a little more, like asking about their life.

It’s not much, I’l be the first to admit, but it’s a way to wish someone well, if only one day a year. Most of the people on my friends list I don’t know well; some I know hardly at all, but I made a resolution one year to wish everyone I could a happy birthday on their day, and I’ve stuck with it now going into my third year now. Oh sure, I miss a few, particularly if I’m traveling, or if I’m head-down in a major project, but I try to get everyone who included a birth date in their profile, and I think that’s important.

Too often, we don’t even know our neighbors any more. It used to be that people in the same neighborhood or town knew each other better: now, we’re strangers surrounded by strangers, and we care as little for them as they do for us. That lack of caring got us where we are today, and it’s well past time to put a stop to it. If my stupid little birthday greetings — and judging by the sarcastic comments I’ve seen about random people wishing you a happy birthday, most people DO think it’s stupid — can make someone’s day once a year then it’s absolutely worth it. Maybe because of it that person and I will get to know each other a bit better. It’s things like this — the little things — that will help make the world a better place. Big, grand, sweeping gestures are wonderful and inspiring, but for me, getting us all to a better world happens one small step at a time.
Baby steps.

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